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Vatican Spokesman Raises Questions About Pope’s Latest Interview

© CTV

Catholic News Agency - published on 07/14/14

Are bishops and cardinals really among the pedophiles Pope Francis cites?

The Vatican spokesman cast some doubt on a new interview that Pope Francis gave to an Italian newspaper.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, underscored in an official note that the words the newspaper attributes to Pope Francis are reported on the basis of memory, not a transcription of a recording or a revised version by Pope Francis himself.

The director of the Holy See Press office focused on “two affirmations” that “have gained much attention” and that are not “attributable to the Pope,” i.e. that “there are cardinals among pedophiles and that Pope Francis firmly stressed, for what concerns [clerical] celibacy, ‘I will find the solutions.’”

The newspaper, La Repubblica, published on July 13 an article by its founder, Eugenio Scalfari, reporting on a conversation he had with Pope Francis July 10.

According to Scalfari, in an hourlong conversation, Pope Francis addressed the “leprosy of pedophilia in the Church.” He said that most sexual abuse occurs within families. He underscored that “the main task of education of the child seems to have gone away from homes.”

But he also conceded that the Church has the same “leprosy” of pedophilia within her house.

“Many collaborators on my side provided me reliable data which estimate a rate of two per cent of pedophilia within the Catholic Church,” the Pope reportedly said.

The Pontiff said “this data should reassure me, but it does not. I find it very grave. Two per cent of pedophiles are priests and even bishops and cardinals. And other people, even more numerous, know but are silent, punish without saying the reason. I find this state of things untenable, and I intend to face it with the severity it requires.”

The Pontiff met with victims of clergy sex abuse in the Vatican July 7, asking forgiveness for abuses and for the omissions of the hierarchy.

He also reiterated the excommunication of those in the Mafia July 5, during his one day trip to the small diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, Calabria, in one of the territories most infiltrated by the Mafia.

In the Scalfari interview, the Pope said, “Our denunciation of the Mafia will not be once in a while, it will be continual.” He confessed he “does not know the issue in depth. I know what they do, the crimes they commit, the huge interests the Mafia manages. But I cannot see at all the way of thinking of Mafia people, of their bosses, of their second fiddles.”

Pope Francis reportedly addressed the omissions of some priests, who “are inclined to pass over the Mafia phenomenon,” since they “condemn the individual crimes, honor victims, help families the way they can,” but “the constant denunciation of Mafias is uncommon.”

According to Scalfari, Pope Francis also addressed priestly celibacy. He reportedly told Scalfari that “celibacy was established in the tenth century, 900 years after Our Lord’s Death,” and noted that Eastern Catholic Churches allow married men to be ordained.

“There is a problem, but it is not a great deal. Time is needed, but there are solutions, and I will find them,” Pope Francis reportedly said.

It was the third meeting between Pope Francis and Scalfari. The journalist wrote that “Pope Francis wanted these meetings, because, among the many people of every social condition, faith and age he meets in his daily apostolate, he wanted to share ideas and sentiments with a non believer,” and Scalfari asserted that he ultimately is “a non believer who loves the human figure of Jesus, his preaching, his legend, the myth he represents in the eyes of those recognizing him a high rank humanity, but no divinity.”

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