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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pope Francis - mental reservation?

The other day, the Holy Father, in his interview published in La Repubblica, said that that he did not have any intention of converting the atheist Eugenio Scalfari. This has rather puzzled some of the faithful on account of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28.19 and elsewhere. One of my brother priests today offered me humorous explanation. He said that Pope Francis is a Jesuit and he was making a mental reservation. Although not intended as a serious explanation, it seems to me more pleasingly parsimonious than blaming the translation or saying that La Repubblica didn't report the interview accurately.

Incidentally, Fr Lombardi today confirmed that the Holy Father's interviews are not magisterial documents. You knew that, of course, but it is helpful to have it definitely stated. We do not have to give all of the Holy Father's opinions in these interviews that "religious submission of mind and will" (religiosum voluntatis et intellectus obsequium) mentioned in Lumen Gentium 25; we are free to disagree respectfully. Indeed Pope Benedict made it clear in the preface to his first book on Jesus of Nazareth that people were free to disagree with his opinions in the book.
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