Guess what: a new interview!

Francis: “I am a Sinner and am Fallible”

Those who thought that since “Pope” Francis is on retreat this week, we wouldn’t hear anything from him until he returns, will now have their illusions shattered: Tomorrow’s edition of the German weekly Die Zeit features a substantial interview with the chief Modernist of the Vatican II Church. The full text of the conversation, which is only available to paid subscribers, was released electronically on Mar. 8:

In order to remain within the legal guidelines of “fair use” of the copyrighted text, we cannot reproduce a lot of quotes from the interview here. We can, however, offer a bit of a summary and some select few quotations, and we can refer you to other English-speaking sources that talk about the interview:

The interview was conducted by Die Zeit editor-in-chief, Giovanni di Lorenzo, in late February at the Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City. Di Lorenzo clarifies at the outset that the entire text was reviewed, edited, and then authorized by Francis precisely as printed, both in the original Italian and the German translation (Francis understands German). So, let no one say that what it contains isn’t what Francis “really” said, or that he only said it off the cuff without thinking. (The translation used in the excerpts below is provided by Novus Ordo Watch.)

Throughout the interview, much of the conversation seems light-hearted, with plenty of laughter and humor expressed by Francis; and compared to some prior interviews in which the “Pope” set off real fireworks (like this one!), this latest one could be considered “not too bad”. But then again, that’s not saying a whole lot, precisely because this is only true in comparison with the rubbish he’s said before.

The interview, found on pp. 13-15 of the Mar. 9, 2017 edition of Die Zeit, is being promoted with a direct quote from Francis: “I am a sinner and am fallible” (“Ich bin ein Sünder und bin fehlbar”). Truer words have never been spoken, especially considering that the man is not a valid Pope.

However, the actual title of the interview is a different quote from the man known previously as Jorge Bergoglio: “I also know Moments of Emptiness” (“Ich kenne auch die leeren Momente”) — words of Francis in reference to a crisis of faith. The first page on which the interview text is printed features a big photo of Francis in a pose reminiscent of The Thinker, exuding profound thoughtfulness. It is obvious that the photo was staged, since the final product of Francis’ thought processes typically does not go beyond prattling on about some “god of surprises” who gives us “tenderness” and requires us to smile 24/7 while welcoming migrants and caressing the marginalized.

In the interview, Francis talks about having been engaged at one point and emphasizes that he is a “completely normal person”. He rejects the idea of making priestly celibacy optional, while signaling that ordaining married men — the so-called viri probati (“approved men”) — is something he would be open to considering.

Asked about “Cardinal” Raymond Burke being sent to Guam, Francis calls him “an excellent jurist”, for whose work in dealing with a sexual abuse case in Guam he is very grateful. Later on he refers to him again and clarifies that he does “not see [Burke] as an adversary”. This is curious because Burke has been at the forefront of internal opposition to Francis, not only by demanding that Francis reply to the five dubia presented to him concerning his teaching in Amoris Laetitia but also by threatening to “formally correct” him if he should fail to do so.

Speaking about Sacred Theology, Francis fails to surprise when he endorses the historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture (aka “higher criticism”), which was developed by liberal Protestants in the 19th century. Historical criticism inevitably leads to a loss of faith as it tries to historicize the meaning of the sacred text (making it relative to the time it was written), thus distorting its genuine sense; and it seeks to reduce all supernatural occurrences and phenomena to the natural order. Pope Leo XIII condemned it as far back as 1893:

It is clear, on the other hand, that in historical questions, such as the origin and the handing down of writings, the witness of history is of primary importance, and that historical investigation should be made with the utmost care; and that in this matter internal evidence is seldom of great value, except as confirmation. To look upon it in any other light will be to open the door to many evil consequences. It will make the enemies of religion much more bold and confident in attacking and mangling the Sacred Books; and this vaunted “higher criticism” will resolve itself into the reflection of the bias and the prejudice of the critics. It will not throw on the Scripture the light which is sought, or prove of any advantage to doctrine; it will only give rise to disagreement and dissension, those sure notes of error, which the critics in question so plentifully exhibit in their own persons; and seeing that most of them are tainted with false philosophy and rationalism, it must lead to the elimination from the sacred writings of all prophecy and miracle, and of everything else that is outside the natural order.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, n. 17)

In 1950, Pope Pius XII lambasted Modernist “Scripture scholars” for deconstructing the biblical text:

To return, however, to the new opinions mentioned above, a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council’s definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they judge the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Teaching Church by the norm of Holy Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 22)

The historical-critical method of Scriptural interpretation is controversial even among members of the Vatican II Sect. People interested in the debate may want to consult Mgr. George A. Kelly’s The New Biblical Theorists: Raymond E. Brown and Beyond (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1983) but should keep in mind that this is a Novus Ordo source.

A little later in the interview, Francis demonstrates the effect higher biblical criticism has had on him when he refers to the story of creation in Genesis as a “mythical narrative” (“mythische Erzählung”). He goes on to claim that Adam was not evil when he first sinned, only weak — whereas the first evil act, so he claims, was committed by Cain when he killed his brother Abel. Francis adds: “The rebellion against the work of God, against man as the image of God — that’s the devil’s work.” He does not mention anything about the devil’s work being a rebellion against God Himself and His Law.

Regarding Faith, Francis claims that for it to become mature and not remain “infantile”, it needs to go through a crisis, thus once again encouraging doubt and a lack of Faith. He does not miss the opportunity to blast “Catholic fundamentalists” in the process:

When Jesus hears how sure Peter is [of his faith] — this reminds me of numerous Catholic fundamentalists — He says: “Three times you will deny me. But I will pray for you.” Peter denied Jesus, he entered into a terrible crisis. And then they made him Pope! (laughs)

(Interview, p. 15)

Actually, it wasn’t “they” who made him Pope, but our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and only He (see Jn 21:15-17; cf. Denz. 1822). Minor detail.

Talking about the fate of Judas Iscariot, Francis explicitly says that he does not claim he was saved, although he does not exclude that possibility either (in contradiction to Jn 17:12: “none of them is lost, but the son of perdition”). “Perhaps he did not ask for forgiveness, but he repented”, Francis asserts — while neglecting to mention that Judas’ repentance was not of a supernatural kind (contrition) and therefore not able to procure for him forgiveness. A traditional Catholic Bible commentary makes this clear:

A fruitless repentance, accompanied with a new sin of despair, says St. Leo. (Witham) … Although Judas conceived a horror at his crime, and confessed it, and made satisfaction to a certain degree by restoring the money, still many essential conditions were wanting to his repentance: 1. faith in Christ, as God, as a redeemer, as the sole justifier from sin; 2. besides this, there was also wanting hopes of pardon, as in Cain, and a love of a much injured and much offended God. Hence his grief was unavailing, like that of the damned. If Judas, says an ancient Father, had had recourse to sincere repentance, and not to the halter, there was mercy in store even for the traitor. (Haydock)

(Haydock Bible Commentary on Matthew 27:3)

Towards the end of the interview, Francis addresses his critics, albeit in a general way: “I can understand it if some people do not like my way of dealing with things, that’s totally okay. Everyone can have his opinion. That is legitimate and human and enriching.” Asked about the posters in Rome that were critical of him as well as the spoofed Osservatore Romano edition that scorned him for refusing to respond to the dubia on Amoris Laetitia, the “Pope” said: “The forged Osservatore Romano, no [this was not enriching], but the Roman dialect of the posters was great. That wasn’t written by some guy off the street but by someone who is smart.”

There are many other things in the interview which we cannot touch upon. However, there is one final highlight that deserves to be mentioned. Asked about the lack of priestly vocations particularly in Germany, Francis answers that proselytism is not the solution. Requested by the journalist to define what he means by proselytism, Francis responds that it means “the winning over of those of another faith” (“das Abwerben Andersgläubiger”).

Precisely! And with this clarification, Francis has dealt a tremendous blow to incorrigible conservative Novus Ordo apologists like Jimmy Akin, who have continued to insist that when he condemns “proselytism”, Francis is referring only to using undue pressure or deceptive means to entice another to convert — he is not condemning the making of converts as such. Remember? Here’s Mr. Akin in 2013:

6) Isn’t proselytization the same thing as evangelization?

Although the word has historically been used this way, in recent decades a new, technical meaning for “proselytization” has emerged in ecclesiastical circles.

It is not the same thing as evangelization, and Pope Francis was not dissing evangelization in his remarks.

7) So what is “proselytization” in this new sense?

Basically, it’s trying to strong-arm people into the faith, putting undue pressure on them rather than allowing them to make a free choice for Christ.

More recently … the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.

8) So what did Pope Francis mean by his comments on proselytization?

He and Scalfari were joking about converting each other in the interview, and Pope Francis assured Scalfari that he wasn’t going to strong-arm him to convert to Christianity right in the interview.

He said that employing such strong-arm tactics is “solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other.”

(Jimmy Akin, “Did Pope Francis just say that evangelization is ‘nonsense’? 8 things to know and share”, National Catholic Register, Oct. 1, 2013)

This interpretation, which we have refuted at greater length here and here, became even more untenable when Francis claimed that converting the Eastern Orthodox is a “great sin against ecumenism”.

But now we finally have it straight from the horse’s Jorge’s mouth: As we have said from the beginning, when he condemns proselytism, Francis means enticing people from other religions to convert and become Catholic. He does not mean using dishonest tactics to bring about conversions. We told you so!

This new Francis interview is just the latest in a huge stack of conversations Francis has had with the press. It will surely not be the last one. Ironically, back in 2013 he claimed that he doesn’t give interviews, and we all wish he had stuck with that resolution.

Keep the popcorn handy, though: With his four-year anniversary coming up next week, you can expect lots more interviews with the man most people still believe to be the Pope of the Catholic Church.