A Vatican spokesman entirely rejected the reliability of Italian journalist Antonio Scalfari’s report suggesting that Pope Francis said all divorced people who ask will be admitted to the Sacraments. “As has already occurred in the past, Scalfari refers in quotes what the Pope supposedly told him, but many times it does not correspond to reality, since he does not record nor transcribe the exact words of the Pope, as he himself has said many times,” spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told National Catholic Register reporter Edward Pentin Nov. 2. “So it is clear that what is being reported by him in the latest article about the divorced and remarried is in no way reliable and cannot be considered as the Pope’s thinking,” Fr. Lombardi added. Scalfari, the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper La Repubblica, said that he spoke with Pope Francis about the Synod on the Family last Wednesday. The journalist, writing in La Repubblica Nov. 1, said that Pope Francis told him that the family “that is the basis of any society changes continuously, as all things change around us,” according to a translation by the blog Rorate Caeli. “We must not think that the family does not exist any longer, it will always exist, because ours is a social species,” the Pope reportedly said. He reportedly described the family as “the support beam of sociability, but it cannot be avoided that the current family, open as you say, contains some positive aspects, and some negative ones.” In Scalfari’s account, the Pope said that the bishops’ diverse opinion is “part of this modernity of the Church and of the diverse societies in which she operated, but the goal is the same, and for that which regards the admission of the divorced to the Sacraments, (it) confirms that this principle has been accepted by the Synod. This is the bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.” Scalfari has previously discussed his interview practices. “I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that I write his answers with my own words,” he told a meeting with the journalists of the Foreign Press Association in 2013. Commenting on his first interview with Pope Francis, published Oct. 1, 2013, he conceded it is possible “some of the Pope’s words I reported were not shared by Pope Francis.” That first interview was published on the Vatican website. However, on November 15, 2013, Father Lombardi said it was removed from the website because “the information in the interview is reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed.” Scalfari’s latest purported account of Pope Francis follows significant controversy at the synod. Some prominent Catholics including German Cardinal Walter Kasper have sought to admit to Holy Communion some Catholics who have divorced and remarried civilly. Many hold that this would break with Catholic teaching about the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the need to receive sacramental Communion while in a state of grace. Pope Francis spoke publicly about the synod on Oct. 24. He said the synod “was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.” The 2015 synod’s final document noted the responsibility of pastors to accompany divorced and remarried Catholics “on a path of discernment according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop.” It also noted the need for such couples to be “more integrated into the Christian community” while “avoiding every occasion of scandal.”
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