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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A journalist who frequently interviews Pope Francis claims the pontiff does not believe in Jesus as God.
In an interview published in the Italian journal La Repubblica Tuesday, Eugenio Scalfari said of the pontiff, "Those who, as it has happened many times with me, have had the luck of meeting him and speaking to him with the greatest cultural intimacy, know that pope Francis conceives Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, man, not God incarnate. Once incarnate, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross."
He went on to say, "When I had the chance of discussing these words, pope Francis told me: 'They are proven proof that Jesus of Nazareth, once having become a man, was, though a man of exceptional virtues, not at all a God.'"
The Holy See Press Office has since released a statement clarifying that Scalfari's text is not an accurate representation of the pontiff's words.
As has been affirmed on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes between quotes to the Holy Father during his colloquies held with him cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was effectively said, but represent rather a personal and liberal [loose] interpretation of that which he heard, as appears entirely evident from what was written today concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ.
The statement fails to deny that Pope Francis disbelieves in the divinity of Jesus — a belief that would be heretical if he actually holds it.
This is only the latest in a long line of controversial statements made by Pope Francis to the 94-year-old leftist founder of La Repubblica.
Last year, Scalfari claimed in an interview that the pontiff claimed Hell, as the Church teaches it, does not exist.
"[The souls of] those, who do not repent and [therefore] cannot be forgiven, disappear," Francis supposedly said. "A 'hell' does not exist: What exists is the disappearance of sinful souls."
The Holy See Press Office was quick to issue a clarification rejecting Scalfari's characterization of the pope's words, but again failed to deny Francis' claims about Hell.
"Everything reported by the author in [the] article is the fruit of his own reconstruction, in which the verbatim words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted," the press release stated. "No direct report of speech, therefore, may be considered a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father."
Scalfari's name became notorious after his first interview with Francis as pope in 2013, where the leftist atheist, asking whether he wished to convert Scalfari, quoted the pontiff as saying, "Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense."
When asked whether "there is a single vision of the Good," the pope reportedly answered, "Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good."
He continued, "Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place."
Catholics were quick to react, criticizing Francis for offering what seemed to be a non-Catholic, relativistic answer to the atheist.
Shortly afterwards, Scalfari issued a clarification, admitting that the pope's words were a "paraphrase" from the interview and not necessarily accurate in every detail.
"I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that, I write his answers with my own words," said Scalfari.
The Holy See Press Office also issued a statement, then-spokesman Fr. Thomas Rosica saying that "the information in the interview is reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed."
Because of the many controversies engendered by each Scalfari interview, Catholics have wondered why the pope keeps granting them, forcing the Vatican press office to issue quick retractions and clarifications each time.
Scalfari was a founder of Italy's far-left Radical Party, which supports abortion and euthanasia, and once associated with the Italian fascists, before leaving the movement to join the communists, with a brief stint supporting the Christian Democrats.
He founded La Repubblica in 1976, a media outlet with no affiliation with any political party. Its staff is comprised in the main of the Italian Left.