Well, the folks at Catholic Herald are pretty tired of the ongoing act of the Pope saying something to the elderly atheist Italian journalist that creates headlines, with the Vatican then doing a non-denial denial:
According to Scalfari’s report, the “colloquy” Pope Francis entertained with him ran the gamut: from the things like cosmogenesis — the origin and fate of the created order — to the social, political, and cultural complex and worldview we catch under the rubric of “Modernity”, to the present and future of Europe. Right in the middle of the conversation — one that reads like that, which could be carried on by any pair of intelligent and cultured old men at a pensioners’ club over wine and cards — there is discussion of the eternal fate of those who die in sin.
About that last thing, Scalfari quotes Francis as saying, “[The souls of] those, who do not repent and [therefore] cannot be forgiven, disappear. A ‘hell’ does not exist: what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls.” If the Pope said that, or anything that fairly amounts to that, he would be a heretic. There were other highly problematic expressions, which Scalfari put in the mouth of the Pope, as well: talk of “divine nature” and inert creation brought to life by a sort of divine or semi-divine “energy” that sounds exciting and speculatively daring in the ears of hippies and devotees of the New Age, but that really come to hackneyed and sixth-rate rehashings of primitive cosmological speculation.
Knowing what they come to, however, tells us nothing about where they’ve come from: Scalfari’s head? Pope Francis’s mouth?
The Press Office of the Holy See issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, denying Scalfari’s report is a faithful representation of Pope Francis’s ipsissima verba — his exact words — but avoiding a repudiation of the Pope’s ipsissima vox — that is to say, the general sense, meaning or purport of his remarks:
The Holy Father recently received the founder of the daily La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without, however, releasing any interview. Everything reported by the author in [Thursday’s] article is the fruit of his own reconstruction, in which the verbatim words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No direct report of speech, therefore, may be considered a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.
One has the impression they took great care to avoid such repudiation. That may or may not be the case. It is also neither here nor there. The statement is not satisfactory. To be perfectly frank, nothing in this situation is satisfactory, or even close to it. The headlines generated around the world declaring hell abolished and the Catholic Church changed forever are false. The story they headline, however, is not.
Go here to read the rest. The Pope has met with this journalist five times. Pope Francis has never personally denied anything that Scalfari has claimed he said. PopeWatch has no doubt that Scalfari has been completely accurate in what came from the Pope’s mouth, and that we have a loose mouthed heretic as Pope, and the useless Cardinals are doing bupkis about it. The best reading of the current pontificate is that it is God’s practical joke.