Scalfari Interview Flawed

Just as I thought–the Scalfari interview was steered mostly by the atheist journalist. John Allen reports here that certain parts were factually incorrect and this fact indicates that Scalfari was putting things together as he thought best, but without checking all the details. It has also emerged that Scalfari did not record the interview or even take notes, but re-constructed the conversation.

If this is so, then he reconstructed (as any of us would) according to what he heard–not necessarily what the Pope said. Fr Lombardi agreed that Pope Francis approved the publication, but there was no indication of how closely he read the words reported as his. I was one who was dismayed and disturbed by the interview. In the future I’ll consider the source, and any interview of Pope Francis by an atheist journalist I’ll take with a pinch of salt.

  • DeaconsBench

    The fact that he is an atheist isn’t the problem. The problem is that he didn’t record or or EVEN TAKE NOTES. It’s a recollection of a conversation. Even if you or I had done that, what emerged would be imprecise, inaccurate, fuzzy and impressionistic.

    This isn’t remotely as scrupulous or as reliable as the America interview, and can’t be said to accurately reflect the pope’s thinking.

  • NormChouinard

    In spite of a documented factual error, I think the assumption has to be that Scalfari’s piece was written accurately in light of Francis’ personal approval prior to publication, no?

  • tracymoschelspenst

    Thanks, Father. My Traditional friends are coming unglued. This might ease their minds a bit.

    • Strife

      Uhm, “Traditional friends”? As opposed to the “modern Catholics?” Catholicism IS Traditional. Without Tradition – there is no timeless Truth. There is no Church. There are only Catholics – and modernists who merely *think* they are Catholic, and who endlessly try to hijack the word “Catholic” in an effort to serve their own god-of-self. As opposed to the Eternal God of faith.

      G.K.Chesterton said – “Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.”

      Chesterton goes on to say: “Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

  • Nathan718

    I wonder if “father” Cekada will be commenting on this post as well. He seemed only too eager to attack Francis in the combox of this blog the other day.

  • Mark Moore

    I don’t think the pope is your pope. This may be a man too big for the Catholic Church.

    • Strife

      I didn’t realize the Church needed a second Messiah.

  • P.F. Hawkins

    I for one trust that if the Pope approved of the interview, he read it beforehand with a thoroughness and attentiveness proportionate to his station in life. I will not slander him by saying otherwise. To approve of the interview is to approve of the interview as it was presented to him.

    In rhetoric, I believe the term for the line of argument being laid out in this post is “poisoning the well”.

  • Mark Nel

    Well Pope Francis shouldn’t approve the publication unless it is accurate. That is just careless, so no excuse there. If Pope Francis approved it, it must be accepted as accurate. We cannot keep doing this little dance around what the Holy Father said.

    • Chesire11

      His Holiness approved the original document, not the mistranslations of the document, which is where all of the issues arose.

      • Mark Nel

        What’s your source? This sounds like another dance to justify what he said or didn’t say.

        • Chesire11

          He doesn’t speak English, so it would be difficult for him to approve the English text. He would have been presented with the text in the language in which the interview was conducted, and originally published.

          • Mark Nel

            Again, where is your source? You are speculating.

          • Chesire11

            No, I am using reason to infer a rational conclusion.

            We have a person who is fluent in Italian and is interviewed by an Italian journalist, presumably in…Italian. The text to be approved is sent by the Italian journalist to the Italian speaking interview subject in Rome for review and approval. The interview subject is known not to possess proficiency in English.

            Only AFTER the Italian interview is published in Italian in an Italian newspaper is it translated into English, and other languages.

            It would be pretty extraordinary, to suppose that an English translation would have been sent to a non-English speaker for approval prior to publication in Italian. Admittedly, it is a more convenient supposition to the idea that our Holy Father is a garrulous old fool, but it is not convenient to the facts of the situation. If you want to suppose an inexplicably more complex series of events, then the burden of proof is upon YOU for putting forward such an unlikely theory.

  • michicatholic

    Damage control by people who didn’t like the interview.

  • FW Ken

    I didn’t share your dismay. I don’t see any heresy. I don’t see any back-peddling on Church doctrine. I do see the pope affirming the divinity of Jesus and actually poking at the atheism of his interlocutor. Like any wise evangelist, he backs off when Scalfari gets prickly about it.
    The most challenging part of the interview for me is the claim that unemployment of youth and lonely older folks are the two greatest evils in the world. However, instead of looking for heresy in that statement, I am looking for deep connections to our American culture war issues.

    • Dave Zelenka

      I wondered about that also: lonely older folks and youth unemployment. I’ve read that he’s said that elsewhere–more than once. It’s interesting and there is something to it. 1) Unemployed youth do many destructive things (war, sex, etc.). 2) Elderly people (like disabled people) are part of the “throw away culture” as it has been called. These people have many things to offer. They stories and relationships they provide are lost. There is a good reason he is focusing on the margins of the age spectrum–a very good reason. It’s at the margins we discover something very important about ourselves–that is being ignored. And here it is: the things we ignore at the margins of society are just the things that God gives us to teach us to how to love. Jesus is teaching us through Pope Francis how to love. And by the comments I read about Pope Francis, many of us are failing the test. We’re getting a big, fat F. We sound like the righteous rather than the repentant sinner in The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

      • Chesire11

        The plight of the young and the old provide some of the most direct and deadly temptations to despair, which would make them arguably rather high on the list of threats.

  • MTMajor

    Father, thanks for the update – it really helps!

  • Dale

    “Scalfari did not record the interview or even take notes, but re-constructed the conversation.”

    Oh, great. So we have an atheist journalist essentially paraphrasing the pope. No wonder some of the theology sounded so off the mark.

  • Nathan

    Does this mean that people can stop pretending that the reported words were anything other than scandalous, outrageous, and offensive to pious ears? Doubt it.

    • Chesire11

      Actually, it is the confirmed mistranslation that appears to be the issue…but why let that get in the way of scorning the authority of the Supreme Pontiff?

  • Dan C

    I am reminded in this assessment of this interview, in which Fr. Longenecker raises the question of how closely Francis read the words, yet approved it much like Weigel’s assessment of Caritas in Veritate- the pope approving those sections “he clearly wrote.”

    Instead of praising the good, in which a faithless journalist reproduces a long free-ranging dialogue to the pope’s satisfaction (a triumph of dialogue, by the way), Fr. Longenecker rejects the interview, its reproduction and struggles again with this pope and his evangelism. The level of constant critique provided over minor matters, and Francis’s teachings that were near verbatim reproductions of Benedict’s suggests that conservatives are no different than those liberals they have been hating on for years. In fact, considering how much Francis is repeating Benedict, I claim that conservatives never accepted his teachings and just loved that liberals hated him. And hate Francis because liberals love him.

    That is the problem. The hate-in-the-bones culture warrior.

    • windjammer

      Total Baloney! It’s not about liberal, conservative, modernist, traditional or any other adjective one wants to use. It’s about having basic common sense and the self discipline required of any adult in any position of responsibility for others….no matter if it be a parent, father, mother, employer, politician, ditch digger or Pope. It’s not unreasonable to expect basic common sense and a reasonable level of self discipline the position may require. I submit it’s not rocket science for a Pope and/or his assistant to closely review words attributed to him from a non recorded, no note interview with an 89 year old atheist publisher before one authorizes their official Catholic publication.

  • Richard Stevens

    I’m sorry, but this does not remove responsibility for the results of the interview from the Pope.

    He has got to stop pronouncing on Church doctrine in what seem to be almost off the cuff, throwaway interviews!

    The Papacy is far too important a teaching role to be conducted in an interview chair!

    I pray that somehow it can be got through to the Holy Father what hurt he is causing to those who have most faithfully supported Church teaching for so many years.

  • Rationalist1

    Actually an atheist journalist who was unscrupulous would prefer that this pope’s words were more live Pope Benedict’s whom Richard Dawkins called Pope Benedict the best pope atheist could ask for.

    I have a number of non Catholic friends who are reappraising their view of the Catholic Church because of this pope and several conservative Catholics who are furious that this pope is emphasizing aspects of Catholic morality that are not just sexual based.

  • windjammer

    “Fr Lombardi agreed that Pope Francis approved the publication, but there
    was no indication of how closely he read the words reported as his.”

    Oh really? Well, if true, that’s even worse than agreeing to a non recorded interview in the first place. This is getting out of hand. Are there any adults in charge? This has nothing to do with Theology, Philosophy or the thoughts, opinions, pronouncements, etc of Pope Francis. It’s really a lot more basic than that.

    How the use one’s God given common sense? PhD’s are not required! Is this really that hard for Pope Francis and those assisting him? Talk about being ..”a really, really undisciplined person”.

    If this is a joke, it’s not funny. If it’s true, It’s very sad and disturbing. We are talking about street level basic common sense.

    You mean to tell the world that :

    1) the Pope is going to agree to an unrecorded, no notes, interview with an 89 year old admitted atheist,

    2) who is relying on his memory/interpretation to publish the subject interview and
    3) then have the Pope agree to publish it on an official vatican site
    4) with the proviso that he, the Pope, may or may not have reviewed or read his own quoted words closely before having them published ????

    Can’t be! Will just wait for the latest revision and extension of the Popes remarks.

    This is the equivalent of the immortal Nancy Pelosi quote on the ACA aka Obamacare…to wit: “We have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it”

    How about another word description….”embarrassing and inexcusable”