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Reconstruction or Construction?

The now infamous "Interview" of Pope Francis with the self-avowed atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, was recently removed from the "Francis" page of the Vatican website where it had been placed under the rather curious designation, "Speeches."

Since its original publication in La Repubblica, the Italian daily which Scalfari founded, it has come to light that the session with the Pope had neither been recorded, nor had notes been taken at the time. The exchange was reconstructed by the eighty-nine year old Scalfari after the fact.

Now, in a true interview with foreign journalists working in Italy, things become curiouser and curiouser. Scalfari says that he told the Pope when he sent his version of the exchange for permission to publish it:

Keep in mind that I did not include some of the things that you said to me. And that some of the things that I attribute to you you did not say. But I put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.

Despite this friendly warning, he received the "ok" to publish his version. But Scalfari goes on to admit to the reporters he was addressing:

I am perfectly willing to think that some of the things that I wrote and attributed to him are not shared by the pope, but I also believe that he maintains that, said by a nonbeliever, they are important for him and for the activity he is carrying out.

Reported in Chiesa.



Commenting Guidelines

"As for "the right's obsession" – all Contributors here are card-carrying Commonweal Catholics."


Thanks for the chuckle of the month. Did you delete from the Vatican website the infamous review of Chaput's brilliant book? Or did Scalafari do that." It might be more reprehensible to deny being far right than actually being far right. But I defer to Stephen Colbert..

Scalafari did it – it's above my pay grade!

I don't know that there is a left/right split in all this.  What I see is the professional journalists not being as put out about the Scalfari affair as some of us laypersons (in the journalistic sense).

Jim McCrea wrote:

These discussions should not be shut down until the disputants simply stop disputing and whatever is said has become repetitive, abusive or borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring.

Yes, boring is in the ears of the listener, but when the listeners stop listening ..

Again, with all respect, I disagree.  I’d say discussions shouldn’t be shut down, period.  And in fact, that’s the rule, right?  Interest in a thread peters out, comments stop coming in (or, as Jim put it, “the disputants stop disputing), and the thread dies a natural death – as opposed to someone coming in and shutting it down.

Jim raised the possibilities of threads becoming repetitive or boring; but what some will find boring, others will find worthwhile.  Why should someone in the first group have the right, the power, to say, “I’m bored, so regardless of whether the rest of you are bored, too, I’m shutting this sucker down.”  That person should simply turn his/her attention elsewhere, drop out of the conversation, and let the others continue, if they so desire.    

"Again, with all respect, I disagree.  I’d say discussions shouldn’t be shut down, period"

Gene --

Right!  And your advice needs to be heeded in the Catholic colleges that are the subject of a new thread here.  I didn't go to a Catholic college, and I'm grateful for it.  Why?  Because too often in "Catholic" colleges discussions are shut off when the discussions become threatening.  Certain things simply could not be considered -- see, most egregiously -- the Index of Forbidden Books.  Of course you'll win all your disputes when your opponents are muzzled.

"Catholic" means "all-inclusive".  When the Catholic Church does not allow all opinions to at least be heard, then it isn't being Catholic.   True, not all opinions can be true -- they contradict each other.  But most opinions can be improved by submiting them to criticism.  In the Middle Ages ALL opinions were given a hearing.  No,they certainly weren't all approved, and disapproval could have horrilble consequences.  But all werre heard, and theology was the better for it.

Jim Pauwels makes an interesting point (at 12:39 a.m.) when he says he doesn't see journalists here as put out about Scalfari taking liberties as the journalistic laity. As one of said journalists, I suppose I have to respond affirmatively, at least for myself.

Fifty years ago I would have been very disgusted with Scalfari. Thirty years ago, I would have been put out about him. Ten years ago, I still wouldn't have done what he did but I would have no longer been surprised. Today?  Meh. I don't know if anyone still working has ever heard of the Hutchins Commission or the ethics of journalism. I do know that Humbert Wolfe's old poem now applies to much that goes on in the US of A:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,

Thank God, the British journalist;

But, considering what the man will do unbribed,

There's no occasion to.

Look at what's begun to pass for journalism in my lifetime. Start anywhere, say Hunter Thompson and Tom Wolfe. Or network anchors with, for Pete's sake, agents. No ink-stained wretches, they. Or cable "news." Or Cooke, or Miller at the WaPost and NYTimes respectively, both of which were once known for having editors. Or what some of our superannuated columnists with a Pulitzer on the shelf and mold in their heads continue to be paid for.

So  am an old fart banging my cane on the porch and talking about how it used to be. Jim, you may be happy to know I still shout at the radio and TV and hurl the morning paper (what there is of it) across the floor. But get surprised? No, I have stopped being surprised.

Tom B. --

And you can write.  :-)


I am not concerned on this post with "inconsistencies" nor with "contradictions," but with acknowledged misrepresentations. My question is simply: are people prepared to tolerate or even condone such? Remember this goes beyond not taking notes or not using a recorder.We already knew about those and that would not have warranted a new post.


let's go back "fifty years" to the thrilling days of yesteryear (to quote a radio program of the time) – it seems the moral sense was keener (or at least there was a higher shame index).

Jim, you may be happy to know I still shout at the radio and TV and hurl the morning paper (what there is of it) across the floor.

I am indeed :-)