In the past few days, the arguments have been raging over the book that Benedict XVI and Cdl. Robert Sarah have written in defense of priestly celibacy. As usual, the truth has been undermined by the ambiguous and indirect maneuvers of those who criticize clericalism with their words but practice it constantly in their actions. And, again as usual, the world has been treated to the umpteenth "show" starring Eugenio Scalfari and Pope Bergoglio.
Once again the founding publisher of Repubblica has written a lengthy and outrageous article in which he speaks of his most recent meeting with the pontiff, who apparently has all sorts of time to meet Scalfari for coffee but no time at all to speak with the cardinals who sent him their dubia.
We find ourselves unable to take these statements seriously. And this attitude is probably shared by many inside the Vatican walls. My colleagues in the Vatican Press Corps — who are much more handcuffed than I am — tell me that the "Great Old Man" of Repubblica often telephones the Vatican to ask for an appointment.
And one of them told me an interesting story. During a recent papal trip, the pope was going down the line greeting all the journalists one by one, saying something personally to each one and joking with them. When he got to one of the reporters from Repubblica he asked him, "How is the Mummy doing?" We have a good idea who he was referring to.
The problem, however, arises from what Scalfari reports that Bergoglio says, without being denied. And here perhaps neither the pontiff nor his staff realize the damage that certain statements can cause. For example, during the meeting before this most recent one, Scalfari wrote, using quotation marks from the pope:
When God, who is One for all the nations of the whole world, at a certain point decided to incarnate himself with the objective of helping humanity to believe in the afterlife and to behave properly, what happened was that in the moment in which he became incarnate he became a man in all respects, a man in flesh and blood, a man even in his thinking and acting ...
Also on the Cross he was a man, he who addressed the one whom he called Father and almost reproached him, saying to him: "Father, Father, you have abandoned me." He was a man up until he was placed in the tomb by the women who arranged his body for burial. That night in the tomb the man disappeared, and he came out of the cave in the form of a spirit who encountered the women and the apostles, still preserving the shadow of his person, and then [after that] he definitively disappeared.
Look, Scalfari may not know this, but it seems impossible that the pontiff said the things he reports in quotation marks. These are ancient heresies, Arian and Gnostic in their origin, which were condemned by the Council of Nicea. Perhaps it would really be best if, in order to avoid the increase of confusion already present in the life of the Church, the pontiff keeps asking his friend to join him for a cup of coffee, but asks him to give up writing about it.
Or, if the founder of Repubblica can't help himself, he could at least avoid quoting the pope in quotation marks. For Catholics, what the pope says still seems to be important. ... And if the Pope is quoted as revising the whole mystery of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ from the pages of Repubblica, well maybe some sign of life from the Holy See [refuting it] is just what's needed.
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino @pellegrino2020