Pope's words: condemned then withdrawn

November 22, 2013
Source: District of the USA

A DICI commentary on the status of an interview given by Pope Francis.

In the preceding issue of DICI (no. 284 dated November 8, 2013), we reported on the Roman rumblings provoked by the interview that Pope Francis granted on October 1 at the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. This interview, which was available on the Vatican website, was taken down on November 15, at the request of the Secretariat of State. One question-and-answer had already been condemned by L’Osservatore Romano, the one in which the pope declared that everyone had his concept of good and evil and that he had to follow his conscience.

On the day after the publication of the interview, faced with the dismayed reactions of many Catholics, Fr. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, had explained that this was neither a Magisterial document nor an encyclical, but rather an occasion for the Supreme Pontiff to express himself “with great sincerity and simplicity” (sic).  In order to justify the decision to remove it from the Vatican website, Fr. Lombardi declared: “The text is reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed,” since the interview had not been recorded and no written notes were taken.

It is certain that the concern caused by that interview, which was expressed by several Vaticanists, had some influence on the decision to take it down from the Vatican website.  But this removal still leaves untouched the fundamental question: Is declaring that everyone should follow his conscience according to the concept he has of good and evil a relativistic statement, yes or no? In the absence of a clear treatment of this subject, there is a risk of hearing more talk about an “informal papacy” (Andrea Gagliarducci, mondayvatican, October 6) and about a “‘fluid’ message” (Pietro De Marco, Espresso, October 7). "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt. 16:18)”, so it is the firmness expected by all Catholics.

Fr. Alain Lorans,
DICI editor