He did it again: Pope Francis called Eugenio Scalfari out of the clear blue to invite him over for an interview. Scalfari, an atheist, is founder of La Repubblica, Italy’s largest-circulation newspaper.

Francis said some pretty amazing things. Of course you have to put each of these zinger quotes in the context of the entire interview, and put the interview in the context of everything Francis has said, and then this in the context of the Catechism and all the teachings of the church, and so forth. But still: he really said all the following.

On church leaders: “Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”

On the curia: “It has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it. The Church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people.”
     And this: “Often the Church as an institution has been dominated by temporalism and many members and senior Catholic leaders still feel this way.”
     And this:  “This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal.”

On clericalism and anti-clericalism: “It also happens to me that when I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-clerical. Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity.”

On proselytism and inclusivity: “Our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”

On kick-starting Vatican II again: “Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

On respecting Catholic politicians’ decisions: “I believe that Catholics involved in politics carry the values of their religion within them, but have the mature awareness and expertise to implement them. The Church will never go beyond its task of expressing and disseminating its values, at least as long as I’m here.”

On whether God is Catholic: “And I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator.”


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