Action Alert!

Fool me once...

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 14, 2014

Back in October a 90-year-old Italian journalist published an “interview” in which he published some provocative quotations from Pope Francis. Only later did we learn that he hadn’t taken notes, and the “quotations” were reconstructed from his own memory of the conversation. Amazing.

But here’s something even more amazing: He somehow got the green light for another “interview!”

Is it any surprise that the Vatican press office was forced to issue a statement questioning the accuracy of the quotations attributed to the Pope this time?

Back in Buenos Aires, as he prepared for retirement, then-Cardinal Bergoglio discouraged a would-be biographer from conducting a lengthy interview. To understand his thinking, the future Pontiff said, it would be better to read his letters and sermons.

Good advice then, good advice now.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jul. 17, 2014 10:03 AM ET USA

    I like this pope a lot, his genuineness, his candor, but his interviews -- and not just those with this Italian journalists -- are a public relations disaster that just seems to grow with time. He may be making "friends" in strange places like the editorial room of the NYT, but he is alienating many who daily struggle to live the faith. As another post here aptly and succinctly puts it, "What a mess!"

  • Posted by: mleiberton3126 - Jul. 16, 2014 1:56 AM ET USA

    What a mess. One consequence is that many are now analyzing our thinking, clarifying our positions, and wondering what in God's name is going through the mind of one man in Rome.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jul. 16, 2014 12:42 AM ET USA

    re: Contrary1995. Why not just pray that Pope Francis follows the Holy Spirit, which is probably what he is doing already.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 14, 2014 4:58 PM ET USA

    Thank you for the candor, but much more so for respecting reality. Times are hard for Catholics endeavoring to live their faith coherently. There is a subjectivity out there that runs deep and permeates so much of our lives these days. It is pervasive. Popes did not used to engage in these types of "interviews." Pope Francis is right when he speaks of service to Christ and to his Church. His office is great, his responsibility is great, his Master is great. His interviews- not so much.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jul. 14, 2014 11:15 AM ET USA

    We have to accept the unfortunate reality that Francis wants to cause controversy and intentionally courts controversy. In his own words, he wants to be "messy." His new found enthusiasm for his own opinions is not edifying. We must pray that he does not get carried away with his celebrity.