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Interview with Pope Francis makes headlines, but how accurate is it?

2014-07-14

A papal interview is once again making headlines. From the mafia, to education, celibacy and pedophilia, Pope Francis addressed it all. 

The piece was published in Sunday's edition of La Repubblica newspaper, after its founder, Eugenio Scalfari, met with Pope Francis in his Casa Santa Marta residence. However, the complete accuracy of the article is dubious. The Vatican has even questioned whether the journalist tried to manipulate 'naive readers.' 

In the article, Pope Francis reportedly describes pedophilia as a serious and unacceptable crime that affects only about 2 percent of priests in all rankings.  He said he will continue to tackle the problem without compromise, adding that "like Jesus, I shall use a stick against pedophile priests.” He also condemned those within the Church, who remain silent. 

When it comes to celibacy, the Pope said it's a "problem” for which there "are solutions.”  He explained that the requirement was adopted by the Church about 900 years after the death of Jesus, noting that marriage is allowed in Eastern Catholic Church. 

Less than a month after stating that members of the mafia were excommunicated, he once again lashed out against criminals. He said he is interested in understanding the 'mafioso' mentality which justifies its crimes, while still professing to practice their religion. 

Through a statement however, the Vatican highlighted that the 90 year old journalist did not record the conversation. Rather, he wrote the piece based on memory. Furthermore, the quotes he attributes to Pope Francis are dubious. The sentences start off with quotation marks, yet they end without them, which brings into question their precision. In the statement, Fr. Federico Lombardi, asked-is this an omission or explicit acknowledgment that the naive reader is being manipulated? 

The Vatican's spokesperson did say however, that the overall theme of the piece, does capture the spirit of the meeting. He added that the conversation was not a traditional question and answer interview, therefore, the Pope's remarks do not reflect his precise thoughts or remarks.


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