The Vatican has made an unprecedented announcement. Responding to to an Italian journalist who claimed Pope Francis had, by his words, abolished sin, the Vatican announced that ... wait for it ... the pope is still Catholic.
Reuters reports on the Vatican's response to Eugenio Scalfari:
Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.
“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.
I find this unusual, and comical, on two levels. First, Scalfari is an influential journalist, but he's not a a high-ranking Church official. The Vatican normally doesn't even see a need to issue a timely response to a world leader, so why here?
And, second, the idea that man is sinful and Christ's sacrifice was needed to account for that sin is a basic tenant of Christianity; and Catholics have not picked up on predestination. Within that context, it takes some serious misunderstanding of doctrine to interpret the pope saying that forgiveness is "eternal" to mean no sin, no problem, is absurd.
Together, those details raise the question as to why the Vatican thought a response was necessary. I haven't seen an explanation. Maybe it was out of concern for how Scalfari's previous private conversation with the pope might distort Catholics' perspective on Scalfari's intepretation of the popes words. Related, the Vatican recently removed the text of the pope's talk with Scalfari from its website.