But the hellish remarks, especially when the pope was preparing for Easter Sunday celebrations, proved too tempting for international tabloids, conservative websites, to face the Pope and many others.
"Pope does not declare hell," read a screaming headline on the website of the Drudge Report
"Does the Pope Believe in Hell?" Patrick J. Buchanan Asked in an Online Column.
"The Vatican literally falls apart after Pope Francis says," Hell does not exist. "" Read a headline in Metro UK, a British newspaper.
The Pope actually spoke often about hell as a very real end goal for the wicked, and the Vatican made it clear that the "literal words of the Pope are not quoted" and that "no quotation of the article as a faithful transmission the words of the Holy Father should be considered. "
Mr. Scalfari agreed.
"You are absolutely right," said Mr. Scalfari in an interview on Friday night, when the Pope was preparing for a solemn tour of the stations of the cross on Good Friday. "These are not interviews, these are meetings, I do not take notes, it's a conversation."
While Mr. Scalfari recalled that he remembered that the hell did not exist, he allowed "I can make mistakes too. "He said he had failed to answer fully to the Pope for the need for a stronger Europe. "At my age," Mr. Scalfari said, he was more used to being interviewed than interviews.
The publisher of La Repubblica, Mario Calabresi, said the newspaper did not refer to Mr. Scalfari's article as an interview. It was, said Mr Calabresi, the fruit of a "cultural exchange and dialogue of the 19th century between a Jesuit believer and a religion-enlightened man of enlightenment".
Sophisticated readers of Italian journalism know how to read Mr Scalfari, that is, when it comes to papal quotations.
For many, Mr. Scalfari embodies an impressionistic style of Italian journalism, prevalent in his coverage of the Vatican, politics and much else, in which the core is more important than the wit and spirit greater than the letter.
And yet, despite the public relations headaches Mr. Scalfari has caused, Francis, 81, seems to be talking to him.
The Pope, said Mr. Scalfari, has a "need to talk to an unbeliever who stimulates him." The meeting of this month was her fifth.
In September 2013, Francis sent a letter to Lord Scalfari, who was later published in La Repubblica, in which the Pope wrote that atheists should "follow their own conscience" and said that Christians had a "sincere and rigorous dialogue" should lead with unbelievers.
Weeks later, the po We had a long discussion with Mr. Scalfari, the reconstructed transcript published by the journalist in La Repubblica.
"Everyone has their idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he understands them" said the Pope, according to Mr. Scalfari. He added that efforts to convert people to Christianity are "serious nonsense."
First, the Vatican spokesman, Pastor Federico Lombardi, confirmed the interview as a "true to the thought" article in its entirety on the L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican outlet, and in a room on the Saint's website Chair usually reserved for papal speeches.
Then the Vatican, who recently blurred embarrassing lines of a letter digitally sent by Pope Benedict XI, removed the text from his website. "There were some misunderstandings and disagreements about its value," said Father Lombardi at the time.
The two men spoke again in July 2014 and Mr. Scalfari published an article in which he said the Pope estimated that 8,000 members of the clergy, including bishops and cardinals, were pedophiles and that perhaps priestly celibacy should be reconsidered ,
The Vatican responded by asking if a lack of quotes "is an attempt to manipulate some naive readers."
In 2015, Mr. Scalfari Francis quotes as saying that "all divorced and remarried the questions will be admitted" to communion. Father Lombardi responded that observers "know how Scalfari writes."
But consistently, the Vatican reluctantly seems to lower the hammer to a learned man to whom the Pope had apparently become tender.
Francis stayed in touch with Mr. Scalfari, called him and invited him to another long talk in November 2016. Mr Scalfari described her warm greetings and said that the Pope said: "It is the Communists who think like Christians."
This The Controversy of the Week is not the first time that Mr. Scalfari and the Pope have visited hell. In October 2017, Mr. Scalfari wrote: "Pope Francis has abolished the places to which souls should go after death: hell, purgatory, heaven."
But the pope, surrounded by a court filled with politically minded cardinals Yes, men and conservatives who try to undermine his mission keep coming back to Mr. Scalfari.
"We became friends," Mr. Scalfari said, recalling that the Pope had helped him on his last visit to his car, this time he went with him to the door. "He blessed me, but knowing that I'm not loyal, he kissed me, and I responded in the same way."
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