'Crazy' atheist and the Pope are 'in love' says columnist

'Crazy' atheist and the Pope are 'in love' says columnist April 5, 2018

Well-known Italian columnist, Father Mauro Leonardi, this week tried to explain how the Pope Francis was ‘misrepresented’ over the existence of Hell by veteran atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, above.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Catholic world when Scalfari recently wrote – not for the first time – that Francis did not believe in the existence of Hell.
According to this Crux report, Leonardi, on Tuesday, took to the pages of Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, to respond to critics who’ve suggested that Francis should stop meeting with Scalfari, knowing that his words were likely to be distorted and sensational, and that misleading headlines would result.
Leonardi wrote that what those critics fail to appreciate is that Francis and Scalfari are friends – in fact, he writes, Scalfari is “in love” with the pontiff.

Talking about the conversations between Scalfari and the Pope, we should focus most that the Pope, through Scalfari, speaks to us, and he does it like the Holy Spirit: The Pope speaks, and his friend, Scalfari, understands him ‘in his own tongue’, with his own codes. For the Pope, that’s fine, and he won’t correct him.

People have been having fun with Frankie’s ‘No Hell’ interview
He went on to say that the two are so close that Scalfari calls the Pope Jorge Mario, his given name, and not Francis.

If Eugenio believes that Jorge Mario thinks, like him, that Hell doesn’t exist, it’s fine with Jorge Mario, he won’t correct him. Being friends isn’t about proselytism but finding common ground, without fearing the contamination and distortions that come with every friendship.


Father John Wauck, above, an American priest of Opus Dei based in Rome who teaches at the group’s Santa Croce University, and who’s a frequent media commentator on Catholic affairs, said he didn’t take the alleged “interview” terribly seriously when he heard about it.

My first reaction, especially because this wasn’t the first time, was, ‘There goes crazy Scalfari again’. He’s getting a headline out of something outrageous, that seems to be in complete contradiction to the Christian faith and other things Francis has said.

Rather than being scandalised as many have been, Wauck sees it as an opportunity – a chance to better explain what the Church teaches on Hell.

I would say it’s a teaching moment. Hell is actually God’s way of taking us seriously. If we’re able to determine our eternity in a good sense, meaning eternal life, God, happiness, delight, all of which will last  forever on the basis of what we’ve done, it makes sense there’s a flip side.
Sometimes we think Hell seems kind of disproportionate, but Heaven’s also disproportionate. God has skin in the game … he’s given us everything, and Hell is a reminder of what we can turn our back on, which is something infinite.

Given that, Wauck said he was surprised Francis himself didn’t take advantage of the unexpected teaching moment he’d helped to create.

I must admit, I’m a little surprised the Pope hasn’t seized on it, right n ow. We were in Holy Week, with the traditional teaching that Christ descends into Hell … It would have been a great moment to come out and say something.
Certainly for priests on the ground it’s a teaching moment. It’s an opportunity to talk about it. When’s the last time you had all these secular people asking questions about Catholic eschatology?

People like Ophelia Benson, who penned this op-ed for the Freethinker?
Meanwhile, Crux reported that Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a well-known Italian mathematician and logician who has also been a popular columnist for the widely read, left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica for the past 18 years – the newspaper Scalfari founded in 1976 – has been sacked for calling the Scalfari interview “fake news”.
Odifreddi asked why La Repubblica:

Doesn’t put a stop to the fake news of Scalfari and even pretends not to notice it, when the whole world talks about it and is scandalised by it?
My impression is that, at bottom, truth doesn’t matter at all to newspapers. If a false news story gets people talking more than a true one, than what’s needed is more of the former.

The paper’s editor Mario Calabresi later clarified in a note to Odifreddi that he’s been fired not for criticising Scalfari, which he said is part of a “free discussion,” but for giving offence to his colleagues at the newspaper.

The one liberty you can’t take is that of insulting or deriding the community with which you work. We do our jobs with passion and professionalism, and the gratuitous nature of your words yesterday hurt us.

"They all "know" what God thinks. How amazing."

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • CoastalMaineBird

    On tomorrow’s edition of your favorite pope opera…
    Will Jorge Mario admit to being torn between the fancy beanie and his true love Eugenio?
    Will Piergiorgio get his job back?
    Will anybody really care?
    Tune in tomorrow !

  • L.Long

    “If we’re able to determine our eternity in a good sense, meaning eternal life, God, happiness, delight, all of which will last forever on the basis of what we’ve done, it makes sense there’s a flip side.”
    The “flip side” is pure human invention for revenge! Which is pure BS as they also said that if sorry for sins and love jesus gets you into heaven! So I know Hitler is in heaven and all the jews he murdered are in hell! Cuz jesus!!! Aholes all!

  • AgentCormac

    Hell is actually God’s way of taking us seriously. If we’re able to determine our eternity in a good sense, meaning eternal life, God, happiness, delight, all of which will last forever on the basis of what we’ve done, it makes sense there’s a flip side.
    Sometimes we think Hell seems kind of disproportionate, but Heaven’s also disproportionate. God has skin in the game … he’s given us everything, and Hell is a reminder of what we can turn our back on, which is something infinite.

    Yes, but… erm… eh, what? Seriously. WTF does any of that actually mean?

  • asif hameed

    I hope that oneday pope will say the truth that there is no hell and he will come out as an atheist ,

  • Italian Scallion

    God did not give us anything because he does not exist. When are people going to wake up and smell the coffee? As in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” no hell below us, above us only sky.

  • 1859

    ‘Father’ John Wanck’s – ooops! – Wauck’s descriptions of heaven and hell are typical of someone who’s brains have been immersed (pickled?) in the cotton-wool world of ‘theology’. In this world words can mean anything you desire them to mean. For, after all, if you are trying to describe things that don’t exist then there is actually no limit to what your imagination can dream up – the bible is a good example. These ‘theologians’ have been trained to weave the most improbable explanations for the totally impossible. Oh – I’ve forgotten to mention ‘faith’ – that fall-back , get-out-of-jail option that dismisses all reasoned logic.

  • 1859

    Also I hope Popeye and his atheist friend do love each other in the full, carnal sense of the word. I hope they astonish the world and come out as a gay couple and have a same sex marriage in the Vatican that’s televised throughout the globe.

  • Robster

    Jees, I’m confused. I read here that Frank the pope’s real name is George! George is a nice name, just as nice as Frank, so why choose one over the other? The world’s Georges should whinge about this, like good Catholics do and get it sorted.

  • barriejohn

    @1859: That would truly be a wonderful thing. I look forward to it with eager anticipation.
    @AgentCormac: Translated, that means that this life is nothing. That’s the religious view. Can anything be more depressing? Makes you wonder why God didn’t just create billions of souls to inhabit heaven and praise him in the first place, if that’s what he wanted!

  • Leonard Ostrander

    So pope Francis, aka Jorge Mario, is actually a closeted gay atheist? This is certainly not an unusual situation. I’m sure that The Clergy Project will welcome him with open arms when he is ready.

  • barriejohn

    Now I wonder whom Mr Connolly had in mind when he penned this article?
    https://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=77141
    (You’ll need to pause the video!)
    “Engaging in a debate while poorly armed will only embolden your opposition, weaken your own faith, and will result in frustration and humiliation.”
    PMSL.

  • tonye

    @1859,
    It’s nice to see the old folk getting some fun together.

  • Barry Duke

    The Pope interview “has been a source of profound scandal not only for many Catholics but also for many people in the secular world who have respect for the Catholic Church and its teachings, even if they do not share them.” – Cardinal Burke.

  • sailor1031

    @robster: the name “george” has already been taken and lifted to the heights by “gorgeous george” the lovely young austrian priest who, at last report, was still “lifting luggage” for the pope emeritus – the Rattenfaenger!
    Personally I’d prefer to “hike the Appalachian Trail”…