Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

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: Philopus - May. 10, 2017 4:30 PM ET USA

    “How far away is the time when censors will go through libraries, blacking out passages of old texts”? I would say it as close as 37 years ago. Back in the late 70’s I was in the book selling business more or less by accident. I worked in retail management for a large department store and was given the responsibility of the book department. In my new duties, I found myself touring one of our vendor’s facilities to see what went on behind the scenes. I was shocked and saddened to find that they were fully invested in screening children’s books, not to find inappropriate content but to screen for gender neutrality; they would not distribute any books that didn’t meet their PC standards. Sadly, the censors have been at work in our libraries for a long, long time.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - May. 06, 2017 11:18 AM ET USA

    I've been wondering why the fascination with atrocious skulls as decoration on EVERYTHING these days. That last item gives me the answer. We are being groomed.

  • Posted by: Erusmas - May. 06, 2017 11:15 AM ET USA

    During the 1980s, a Russian journalist published a newspaper column in the United States. He once quoted a saying quite familiar in his country, "In Russia, nobody can predict the past!"

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - May. 06, 2017 2:21 AM ET USA

    While all three are frightening in their own very specific ways, the last is the most frightening of all. This is because once the view of human life becomes so warped, anything becomes possible for the immorality of those "anythings" will pale in comparison. And no one will see anything wrong with any of those "anythings" because their conscience is long gone the way of the Dodo. This maelstrom of madness threatens to engulf us all. (With a pope who receives the cross on a hammer & sickle.)

  • Posted by: shrink - May. 04, 2017 4:06 PM ET USA

    As the Roman world was decaying, the Catholic Church, in fits and starts was growing, resisting the moral and spiritual decline of the time. Our civilization is now in its death throws, and as Phil pointed out a few days ago, so is the Church in the West, if attendance at Mass is a valid indicator. We Catholics are much closer to the world than the Spirit; thus as the world goes, so goes the Church. BTW: did anyone hear Pope Francis speak the name of Jesus in front of the Moslems? Neither did I.

  • 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.