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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has confessed to being profoundly influenced by communism when discerning his vocation and says that, while he rejected its materialism, he found its other elements in harmony with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.
The frank admission of Pope Francis' marxist leanings has ignited fresh controversy in the Italian media following the publication of the pontiff’s interviews with Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari. His book paints the Holy Father as a modernist revolutionary determined to change the Church, fight inequality, abolish sin and dismiss evangelism as the "solemn nonsense" of proselytism.
Il Dio unico e la società moderna: Incontri con papa Francesco e il cardinale Carlo Maria Martini (“The One God and Modern Society: Meetings With Pope Francis and Cdl. Carlo Maria Martini”), released earlier in November, is a collection of Scalfari’s interviews with Pope Francis from July 2013 to March 2018.
In one of the most controversial interviews on Sep. 24 at Casa Santa Marta, the atheist Scalfari asks Francis how he discerned his vocation in his younger days.
The pope says he was at university and had a teacher he respected and befriended who was a “fervent communist.”
“She often read me and gave me to read texts from the Communist Party," the pontiff explained. "The woman I’m talking about was later arrested, tortured and killed by the dictatorial regime then ruling in Argentina.”
The woman, who remains unnamed in Scalfari's book, has been identified as Esther Ballestrino de Careaga, a Paraguayan marxist terrorist who also founded Paraguay’s first feminist movement.
A Catholic establishment media interview confirms “the person who introduced him [Pope Francis] to political thought was Esther Ballestrino de Careaga, a Paraguayan activist who identified with communist postulates, founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who was finally killed by the dictatorship of General Videla.”
According to the leftwing Guardian, Bergoglio and Careaga met around 1953 or 1954 in the laboratory where she worked as a pharmaceutical biochemist and he as an apprentice chemical technician.
Careaga’s parents had a large library of books on Marxism and she asked Father Bergoglio to hold them in safekeeping. Bergoglio hid the marxist library in Maximo Colegio, a Jesuit university in San Miguel, Argentina, and returned them to Careaga’s daughters some four decades later.
In the Scalfari interview, Francis denies being “seduced” by Careaga’s communism, insisting “her materialism had no hold on me.”
But in 2015, he told Careaga’s two daughters at the Vatican: “She taught me to think and introduced me to social concerns.” Pope Francis.
Careaga’s daughter Ana Maria reaffirmed the influence of her mother’s communist ideas on Bergoglio:
My mother left a flood of influence on the young adolescent. We understand that these waves are present in the ideas he spread during his visit to Latin America [in 2015]. We see them in the denunciation he made of the exhaustion of the capitalist system, the danger of the monopolistic media and the need to transfer it to the hands of the poor, a continuation of the ideas of my mother and the militants of the ‘70s.
The theme of Communism surfaces in a later interview when Pope Francis told Scalfari that Jesus’ commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself,” had to change to become “[Love your neighbor] more than yourself.”
“You therefore dream of a society dominated by equality. This, as you know, is the program of Marxian socialism and then of communism. So do you think of a Marxian society?” Scalfari asks.
“It has been said several times and my answer has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians,” Francis replies.
In the same interview, Scalfari jokingly asks the Pope if the Holy Father will attempt to convert him to Christianity.
Francis smiles and answers: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it doesn’t make sense.” Rather, the pontiff advocates “listening to each other” because the world is “crossed by roads … that lead to Good.”
When Scalfari asks if there is “a vision of the Unique Good” and who establishes such a vision, Francis says, “Each of us has a vision of Good and even Evil. We must encourage him to proceed towards what he thinks is the Good.”
“I think this is one of the boldest statements made by a pope,” replies Scalfari. Francis repeats his assertion, adding, “This would be enough to improve the world.”
Francis supports his claim with a highly reductionist view of the Incarnation: “The Son of God became incarnate to infuse the soul of men with the feeling of brotherhood.”
In a theological response, U.K. Deacon Nick Donnelly told Church Militant that the pope’s interviews offered a “very impoverished presentation of the Faith,” as “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation,” as set forth in section 161 of the Catechism.
“Bergoglio presents a very humanistic interpretation of the Incarnation, reducing it to the affirmation of humanity. The authentic Catholic understanding of the Incarnation is that it accomplishes man’s salvation from sin,” Donnelly insists.
Towards the end of the interview, Scalfari again asks the Holy Father if he has any intention of converting him. “I still have no intention,” Francis replies.
Scalfari is a notorious atheist. The Christian can never accept a dialogue with an atheist ‘free of preconceptions’ as if atheism is equal to Christianity as a form of knowledge. Vatican II’s Guadium et Spes [GS] didn’t accept this dialogue with atheism without preconceptions. GS holds that atheism is against reason. The Church must always start from the preconception of God’s Revelation, and denial of that revelation is profoundly erroneous and irrational.
In his reading of Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, Scalfari says “the abolition of sin is the most shocking part” of that document. “Francis abolishes sin by using two instruments,” i.e. Christ’s love, mercy and forgiveness and attributing full freedom of conscience to the human person.
Scalfari commends Francis’ papacy for proclaiming “a God who does not judge but forgives.” He comments: “There is no damnation, no Hell. Perhaps Purgatory? Definitely repentance as a condition for forgiveness.”
When Scalfari asks what happens to those who reject the Christian God, Francis proposes obeying one’s conscience as a valid alternative. The pope then rejects the propositional conception of “absolute truth” even for Christians, and links truth for Christians to “the love of God for us in Jesus Christ.”
“Bergoglio reveals why he doesn’t like ‘absolute truth,’ because he prefers subjectivism, truth that expresses itself from ‘within,'" Donnelly notes. "Metaphysics and morality derive from objective truth, from God’s natural law and from God’s Revelation. Bergoglio’s subjectivist approach was condemned by Pope St John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor."
Scalfari also praises Francis for seeking dialogue and brotherhood with other faiths in the name of a “unique God” because he thinks “all religions must be inspired.”
Donnelly challenges this indifferentism:
Here we see the precursor of Bergoglio’s Abu Dhabi Declaration and the heresy that God wills the plurality of religions. He tells Scalfari that the unique identity of Christianity centres on the Incarnation (which is true) but then goes onto to write that ‘other faiths’ have their origin in God’s transcendence, as if the same God is the source of other faiths.
Throughout his book, Scalfari interweaves his own commentary with his papal interviews but separately reports the pope’s words as if they are verbatim.
The Vatican has repeatedly asserted that “the words Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes in quotation marks to the Holy Father during the interviews cannot be considered a faithful account of what was actually said, but rather represent a personal and free interpretation of those who listened.”
Pope Francis has never directly addressed the accuracy of Scalfari's writing.