"The Church is forced to become more modern: to be with the poor and the weak, not with the rich and strong."
"The planet is under threat, the climate must be our first concern."
"I am only driven by the desire that our church survive by adapting our collective spirit to modern civil society."
The sentences cited are of revolutionary explosive power.
On January 14th, Scalfari and Francis greeted each other in Santa Marta:
"We hugged each other."
Right at the beginning of his detailed report, Scalfari comes back to a particularly valuable topic that he had already spoken to Francis about on previous occasions: the world unity religion, which corresponds to the Masonic spirit:
“There is only one God, that is the opinion of His Holiness. And Pope Francis believes it is the job to fraternize everyone, not just the Catholics and the Protestants, but all the religions that cultivate their God by following his rules: there are other monotheistic religions in the world, and there are polytheistic ones like they used to be. The gods of these religions often ignored each other or fought each other to the utmost. That was the former world: today you don't get to such extremes anymore, but you sometimes ignore the existence of other religions.
Francis is diametrically opposed to this thinking, which explains why there are voices that contradict him, even in the Christian religion.
"But it goes far beyond that. The only God he knows goes far beyond that. ”
Scalfari then affirmed that he was "not a believer" but was interested in theological questions, as these "had repercussions on culture in general and sometimes even on people's intellectual lives."
After exchanging a few pleasantries about their health and an exchange of ideas about current issues, which Scalfari does not report, he asked his first question. He took up a question he had already asked during the last conversation: Which saints does Francis personally worship more than others? While in the first part, which is about the new book of Benedict XVI. and Cardinal Sarah, and which contains a whole range of false information, no statements by Francis are quoted as direct quotes under quotation marks, Scalfari now goes all the way and publishes a real interview:
Francis: I remember your question well, and my answer still applies: These are
the saints who have made a major contribution to the history of the church. It is Paul of Tarsus, Augustine the Bishop of Hippo, Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order, from which I come, and Francis of Assisi, the Saint, whose name I have adopted. Why did you ask me this question?
Scalfari comes up in his answer to Augustine and “the subject of grace”. The father of the church was "partly a mystic," said the journalist. The theme of grace was based on mysticism. It has been said that God grants grace to all Christians who accept him until their death, provided they do not commit a grave sin that leads to the loss of grace.
"It was a first version, but there was a second," said Scalfari. "God entrusts grace to only one part of humanity, the other remains without, but in the course of life those who have grace risk losing it and those who do not have it can receive it."
These are two different doctrines of grace, because the second, the grace doctrine of Augustine, let people be more committed in their behavior because they have to acquire grace. Acquiring it is much more difficult than losing it. According to Augustine, this will test humanity.
Scalfari: How do you see this question?
Francis: I fully agree with what you say. Augustine is a very great saint of very great intellect. He also had some mystical relapses that revived his faith and this struggle made his figure great, be it because of his doctrine of grace, be it because of the effort he tried to live out, and at least three or four times he had lived a mystical relationship with the Creator God, who towers above us. Augustine cannot be called a mystic, just like Ignatius of Loyola, although he too had experiences of this kind with God.
Scalfari: Holiness, have you never had episodes of mysticism? Francis of Assisi had it.
Francis: After youthful adventures, Francis happily turned into a mystic in the cheerful way of dealing with his neighbors and paid for the life he had with his unreasonable youth. He was a total mystic, he prayed, he identified himself with God, while he gathered with his body and soul those who thought and prayed the same way as he did. He cultivated the earth at the convent, met the Pope of that time and asked that his followers in Rome be recognized as a religious community. He even went to the Holy Land and also met the Sultan who ruled there. None of this took anything away from his mysticism. He not only exercised it towards humans, but also with animals. He calmed the wildest, including the wild wolves that approached him and licked his hands, as if they were faithful dogs of their master. He died lying on the meadow with his hand in the hand of Clara, who was also canonized."
Scalfari: But you have nothing mystical, or am I wrong?
Francis: No, I have nothing and that's why I took the name Francis. Not because I want to become a mystic, but because I am aware in my mind and soul of what mysticism is. I am driven, as you know, because we have spoken about it several times, from the desire for the active survival of our church to adapt our collective spirit to modern civil society. Religions, and not just Catholic-Christian ones, must know modern society very well and in its cultural, spiritual and active depth. A modern age that begins four or five centuries before today. These were our conversations, about which you even wrote a book that I really liked: “The only God and Modern Society". I also have a book for you that I will give you when we say goodbye.
Scalfari: Holiness ...
Francis: Don't always call me that. I prefer Pope Francis or simply Francis. We're friends, aren't we?
Scalfari: I cannot promise you that I will succeed, but I thank you very much. I want to talk to you about the deep feelings that each of us has within us, and that guide life for good and for bad. What do you call these feelings?
Francis: Do you know what is the first and most important of these feelings or sensations or ways of being of our soul? The self and the me. In practice, they identify themselves, and that is one of the basic feelings: the I or the self. God created them. He is the creator of the universe, but we humans have received this peculiarity: the I, we ourselves, consciously, to be creatures, who also possess the various abilities which the Creator God has given us, which for our part are creators of the infinite, but to be microscopic creations that we are able to create ourselves.
Scalfari: They are all creations, but not always positive. This means that the Creator God does not enter into the matter, but grants the creative ability, for good as well as for bad. That is what the Catholics call malevolence. Descartes is at the origin of the ego question: Cogito, ergo sum. It was a Cartesian revolution with these three words that distinguished us from animals, but were in any case a divine creation. May I ask you, dear Francis, about the meaning of our self-creation?
Francis: God created us and among other attributes that is responsibility. So: religiosity, responsibility, awareness, but also ambition and anger, love, but also hatred of neighbor. The substance our soul contains positive aspects and negative aspects. To whom? The neighbor, who often represents the weak and the poor, not the rich and the strong.
Scalfari: So do we baptize the soul, which besides many other qualifications also possesses malice?
Francis: In addition to malice, there is also kindness and the ability to freedom and equality.
Scalfari: Politics too?
Francis: Yes, also politics.
Scalfari: a good one or a bad one?
Francis: Good or bad, the judgment itself is good or bad.
Scalfari: So God endures?
Francis: I said Mass in Santa Marta this morning and among the various things I mentioned was one that I said: Authority is not command, but coherence and testimony. Jesus had authority because he was coherent in what he taught and in what he did and how he lived. The authority shows itself in this: coherence and testimony.
Scalfari: Can I, Holy Father, bring up the subject of intermingling (Mestizentum), which you mentioned several times?
Francis: This is a very important topic in our time, but in a way mestizum has always existed. They are peoples who are looking for places and societies all over the world that are able to house them and even to transform them into citizens of the country to which they came. They probably a have wife and children in this country. In this way, the peoples of our species tend to create a new people, in which the qualities and shortcomings of the original peoples merge to create one that is hoped to be better. This is the topic of migrations and immigration that has always been topical, not just now: The population of our planet has constantly changed in its physical and mental characteristics and in personality. The same can be said of the world we live in. For example, now there is the climate problem. In some zones the sea level rises, in others it decreases. This is a topic of great interest that we all have to shoulder.
Scalfari: Historically there have been battles and massacres motivated by religious differences. Religion has triggered wars and slaughter in certain cases, one of which we remember historically: Saint Bartholomew's Eve. It happened in Paris in 1572 and the French guards, driven by the government, massacred the 20,000 Calvinists. This is just one case that stands out among others because of the era and the number of people affected. The only God did not intervene to prevent a collective crime of this magnitude? How do you explain that?
Francis: The only God gave mortal creatures the freedom to act.
Scalfari: So man was sovereign of himself: doesn't it seem to you, dear Francis, that the man created is himself a creator?
Francis: Obviously, God created a free species, good and bad. Man, if we wanted to define him in one word, is freedom, and Jesus is the example according to what we know about him. The Gospel of Mark tells us about Jesus who taught in the temple and the reaction that his way of teaching triggered among people. The difference lies in the inner authority, just as with Jesus: It is the style of the Lord, this nobility, let's put it this way, with which the Lord moved, taught, healed and listened. Coherence. Jesus had authority because there was consistency between what he taught and how he lived. This agreement is an expression of a person who has authority. The authority shows in it: coherence and testimony. "
"We say goodbye. He accompanies me, as he always does when we meet, to the outer entrance and helps me into the car that is waiting for me. "
Scalfari expresses the hope of seeing Francis again soon, "at least I think of him with great affection and he gives it back to me with the same feeling".
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: MiL / La Repubblica (screenshots)