In a bombshell article released Sunday, a veteran Italian journalist claimed that Pope Francis told him that requiring priests to remain single is a “problem” in the Roman Catholic Church and that pedophilia is a “leprosy” afflicting every level of the Church hierarchy.
The catch: the 90-year-old journalist, Eugenio Scalfari, doesn’t record his interviews or even take notes.
As CBS News reported, Scalfari relies on his memory for his reporting in the newspaper La Repubblica.
According to Scalfari, who is an atheist, Pope Francis called the Catholic Church’s priestly celibacy a “problem.”
“There are solutions and I will find them,” the pope allegedly said of the 1,000-year-old requirement that priests remain unmarried.
The pope also said pedophilia is a “leprosy in our house.”
“The two percent of pedophiles are priests, and even bishops and cardinals,” the pope allegedly said. “And others, even more numerous, know about it but keep quiet, they punish without saying the reason why.”
In a statement in response to the interview, the Vatican respectfully questioned Scalfari’s memory, saying the journalist may have relayed “the sense and spirit of the conversation between the Holy Father and Scalfari,” but that the article is, “the result of his memory as an expert journalist but not of a precise transcript of a recording nor of a revision from the part of the interested, to whom the words are attributed to.”
The Vatican also posed a question: were the article’s alleged misattributions “forgetfulness or explicit recognition that a manipulation is taking place for the more naive readers?”
It’s not the first time the Vatican has appeared to regret working with Scalfari; in November 2013, the Vatican posted and then removed from its website an interview Pope Francis had given Scalfari, in which the pontiff controversially claimed that youth unemployment and lonely elders were “the most urgent” problems facing the Church.
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