Pope Francis’ favorite journalist, to whom he has granted many one-on-one interviews, claimed yesterday in an Italian publication that the Pope has explicitly told the interviewer that he denies that Jesus was divine during his earthly life.
Eugenio Scalfari, writing for La Repubblica made the claims that Francis has personally told him that he doesn’t believe Jesus to have been God during his time on earth, even though he believes Jesus to have been a man. It sounds very much like a version of a heretical belief known as kenosis, held widely in more extreme charismatic evangelical circles.
Although some have accused Scalfari, who is an atheist, of creating an incendiary headline, he is a long-standing and trusted journalist who has worked more closely with Francis than anyone else. And secondly, Pope Francis’ apparent devotion to Marxist political thought, which seems to underscore almost all that Francis does as the Pope, lends credibility to Scalfari’s claim.
“Those who have had the chance, as I have had different times, to meet him [Pope Francis] and speak to him with the greatest cultural confidence, know that Pope Francis conceives Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, a man, not God incarnate. Once incarnated, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross.”
“When I happened to discuss these phrases, Pope Francis told me: ‘They are the definite proof that Jesus of Nazareth, once he became a man, even if he was a man of exceptional virtue, was not God at all.’”
The Holy See Press Office did not explicitly deny the report. They did issue a statement claiming that Scalfari’s reporting “cannot be considered as a faithful account of what has actually been said, but rather represent a personal and free interpretation of what he has heard…”
Scalfari previously made news for reporting that Francis told him that he does not believe in hell, but rather holds to annihilationism. This claim left Vatican officials scrambling with plausible defenses of Francis’ words while trying to maintain traditional Roman Catholic orthodoxy. The claim that Francis doesn’t believe in hell, however, seems to have become more acceptable over time as his various comments on the subject have been compounded.
A journalist for the Catholic Herald, Christopher Altieri, asked, “Why on earth does Pope Francis still trust Eugenio Scalfari?” He then called upon Francis to “disown not only the precise verbiage Scalfari reported in his piece, but the ideas foisted upon him therein—at least the ones that are manifestly heretical.”
Then he added, “The longer he does not, the stronger the case becomes for believing he cannot.”