Another pope interview!

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.”




  1. 1. Actually, Pope B16’s letter was to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician, and not Scalfari, although parts of his letter was published also in La Repubblica.

    2. “I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

    Bravo, Papa Francesco!

    3. “…at least as long as I’m here.”

    Goodness, just thinking about the possibility of him not being here makes me incredibly sad. God had better let Pope Francis stay with us for as long as forever.

    4. Finally, some of my favorite quotes from this piece:

    “You do not believe in [the soul] but you have one.”

    “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God…”

    “God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us.”

    and then this: “…Think of me, think of me often.”


    As my priest said last Sunday during his homily, “Pope Francis is my hero. That’s all I google these days!” I too google, think of and pray for Pope Francis all the time.

    Well played, Holy Spirit, really well played.

    1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #2:
      EIlsabeth – thanks for the correction on Pope Benedict XVI, whose letter wasn’t to Scalfari. I corrected the post by deleting what I wrote.

  2. I also found encouraging the Salt and Light interview with Cardinal “Oscar” the coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, whom Rocco identifies as being close to a “Vice Pope.”

    It is interesting that in this latest interview, that Francis said he asked to be excused for a period of reflection before accepting the papacy, and that all his hesitations vanished after a brief moment of “light” which seemed to last much longer.

    From Oscar’s report Francis had within a few days of the conclave decided that Oscar would be the coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, and had picked his new Secretary of State.

    It is amazing how Francis continues to avoid being a prisoner in the Vatican. He has recently had as his guest the Rabbi from Argentina who was his co-author. They celebrated the Jewish holidays with kosher food, and prayers in Hebrew by the Rabbi. The Rabbi hopes to accompany Francis to Jerusalem some day.

  3. (Not entirely “out of the clear blue”, since the reporter had “[written the pope] a letter asking to meet [him] in person.” But still, he was surely surprised to receive a phone call from the pope himself… but then, why should that surprise us anymore?)

    The pope chose to have this interview carried out at 3pm, the “hour of mercy”. Regardless of his schedule, that seems a little providential, given the content of the interview.

    Parts of the interview resonate with me, and others seem a bit discordant. For example, Pope Francis mentioned the primacy of conscience in his written response to the reporter, and then said: “Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.” This raises the question: “better” in whose estimation? If one person’s view of good (and thus better) differs significantly from his neighbor’s (perhaps on an issue as divisive as reproductive rights), can they agree that the world is becoming better as each works to promote what he sees as good? The same issue comes up with his calling narcissism “not good”. (He was asked about “vision[s] of the good”, not about “the good” in and of itself, which could explain his response.)

    The pope is speaking of Christ and of true Christian love (caritas / agape) to this atheist, preaching without proselytizing. He says the Church’s mission is “to identify the material and immaterial needs of the people.” One could read that superficially and be alarmed, but I see “immaterial needs” and read “spiritual needs”. The term “spiritual” may not resonate with an atheist, so Francis has chosen a different form of expression.

    I’m a little puzzled at a couple phrases, like “Son of God became incarnate in the souls of men,” and at the universalism implied in “the light of God … will invade all souls” (fully aware of texts like 1 Cor 15:28).

    1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #4:
      That business of individual conception of good and evil does sound relativistic on the surface, but I take it as referring to the universality of Natural Law and the human conscience.

      Still, even given natural law and the human conscience it is possible to have a mal-formed conscience. “they will call evil good and good evil”

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #8:

        Or perhaps his thinking is anchored in his “dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life.”

        And I rather like his imprecise words or (as per #4)discordant way of communicating that make people think and question, which is also a great way to facilitate a dialogue.

        All this to say: I think the pope knows exactly what he’s doing. 😀

  4. There is much in this interview that applies to ministry. The reply that began “Proselytism is solemn nonsense …” has remarkable implications for ministers, including people involved in liturgy and music. The simple formula of knowing people, listening, and expanding (together) ideas has enough meat to keep me thinking, reflecting, and implementing for a lifetime.

  5. A little over six months ago, during the sede vacante, I offered my thoughts as a Lutheran about what I’d like to see in a new pontiff:

    As I reflect on what kind of leader I would like to see in St. Peter’s chair, Chittister’s words have continued to echo in my heart. The next pontiff’s great task, from my perspective, will be precisely what Chittister names: community building. Like my own Lutheran church, or the Anglican communion, or the Orthodox churches, or the biblical church of Corinth, today’s Roman Catholic church is filled with tensions, divisions, and ongoing struggles over how to be the people of God in today’s world. How do we relate to one another within the community? How do we deal with differences of opinion? How do we relate to the world? Most importantly, how do we see God at work around us?

    The key pastoral and theological gift I see as most necessary for a new pontiff to possess is this: the ability to carry on a conversation.

    Good conversations are acts of community building, as each participant views the others as gifts from God. Good conversations require that we both listen with openness to the thoughts of others and also plumb the depths of ourselves to offer our thoughts, our prayers, and our insights in return. Great conversations change all who take part in them, healing our brokenness and giving us renewed hope for whatever lies ahead. On the other hand, poor conversations not only leave us in our brokenness, but can add to the pains.

    What the Roman Catholic church needs — what the whole Christian church needs — is a pope who loves being part of great conversations.

    Sounds like I may have gotten what I asked for.

    (Is it hubris to think that Francis may read PT?)

  6. I think just about everyone knows the difference between good and evil. Even Hitler, Stalin et al knew the difference. However, narcisism and a lack of love makes some choose evil to advance their agenda. It’s the old “the ends justify the means”. The problem is that choosing evil just makes more evil.
    I think Francis is painting with broad brush strokes in order that those who disagree with people of faith can at least agree on good vs evil. It is when we get into the “gray areas” that disagreements occur, as Jeffrey pointed out. But broad strokes is where one begins. And he is right, narcisism is not a good thing.

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #12:


      The greatest evil is often done by those thinking they are doing good. Hitler’s desired ends were perhaps even worse than the means adopted to try to realise them.

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #19:
        Nope, don’t agree Scott.
        In 1933 HItler made abolutely certain that all he desired was codified into law so that if the German people could not reverse the course he was about to make. As a matter of fact he was scrupulous. On Oct 6, 1939 a meeting was held by Goebbels, Eichmann, Himmler et al to put in motion the “final solution”. At the meeting it was discussed how this would be done and that (paraphrasing): this is a sad issue that must be done slowly and with great care because we are sensitive to the fact that this is a horrific terrible deed being done to fellow Germans (Jews) and the need to be discreet. On Oct 28, 1939 the first massive roundup of 17000 Polish Jews occured.
        They knew what they were doing was evil, no doubt about it. That is why no one has found a document written by Hitler ordering the “final solution” , everyone knew it was evil.
        Regardless, we both agree that evil promotes evil.

  7. Maybe he’s opening up the windows and letting the fog in? Foggy theology creates confusion and causes people to engage in a tortuous exercise of trying to figure out what’s been said. Maybe it’s time for him to speak more clearly. His words about good and evil sound no different than you would hear from a Hollywood personality.

    1. @Michael Alexenko – comment #13:
      Or it could that the fog is inside some of our minds.

      Just because someone is a pope, a priest, or a minister, it does not follow that every utterance is theological.

      Pope Francis’s words on good and evil have a context that Hollywood celebrities lack. And it’s not beyond imagination that people like Martin Sheen have something to say to the rest of the Church. Or even Angelina Jolie.

    2. @Michael Alexenko – comment #13:

      “Foggy theology creates confusion and causes people to engage in a tortuous exercise of trying to figure out what’s been said.”

      I genuinely do not understand this kind of reaction. Just what exactly, pray tell, do you find so foggy in what the pope said in this or the previous two interviews?

      Not being snarky; just trying to understand really. To me, and English isn’t my first language either, nothing the pope has said so far has caused me such torturous confusion.

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #15:
        It is if your expectation and starting point is for someone to tell you:
        – what to do
        – how to do it
        – punishment and penalties if you fail to observe the rule, law, commandment
        – need for this type of legalistic black and white structure

        Seems to skip over the fact that most ethics/morality is in a *gray* area (even when laws are stated). It also skips over a person’s intention, knowledge, etc. (even when they have the legal manual in front of them)
        Adult Catholicism is messy as is living the gospel….as this Pope has mentioned a few times.

      2. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #15:

        To give you one example:

        Your Holiness, is there is a single vision of the Good? And who decides what it is?
        “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”

        Your Holiness, you wrote that in your letter to me. The conscience is autonomous, you said, and everyone must obey his conscience. I think that’s one of the most courageous steps taken by a Pope.
        “And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

        There is so much more context that is necessary to unpack these few lines — particularly a whole host of Church teachings on conscience and its proper formation. The Holy Father’s response by itself is very insufficient — true, but in a way that is incomplete. Left to stand on its own, it could be misconstrued as relativism or religious indifferentism.

        And beyond that, if the Holy Father said in his letter (which we don’t have) and is saying again here that an “autonomous conscience” does not presuppose an effort to have a well-formed conscience “in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator” (CCC 1783), then he is speaking wrongly. Fortunately, the context in the interview is so minimal, one could never say that he is speaking wrongly (and in any case, private letters and media interviews, while interesting and informative, carry next to no authoritative weight).

        This interview is about as clear as mud. I will continue to point people to The Big Interview in America, but I would be embarrassed to suggest that anyone can get anything that is substantial and useful from this one.

      3. @Matthew Morelli – comment #18:

        Thank you for your response.

        Obviously, I disagree. And you would disagree with me also when I say your example/interpretation just sounds like you are looking to be confused — despite your apparently clear understanding of the catechism.

        Also, the letter the pope wrote to Scalfari is available both on Vatican’s and La Repubblica’s websites and really, all over the web. Just google it if you are interested.

        I have a feeling, however, that you would also find that letter utterly confusing and muddy as can be. I on the other hand found it to be inspiring and uplifting.

      4. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #20:


        Thank you for pointing out that the letter was made public. I went and found it, and it does give the interview much greater context and clarity. It makes me wish that Pope Francis would stick to these type of thought-out letters rather than the interview format (and to be fair I thought the same in the aftermath of Pope Benedict’s interview several years back).

        That said, my own being confused wasn’t the reason I took issue with the interview — I can understand what Pope Francis was saying because I have the benefit of having studied enough theology to flesh out the issues. I am grateful that some of the statements, while a bit jarring, challenge me into rethinking my own presuppositions about the Faith and how I live it.

        However, many who will read the interview on its own won’t have the benefit I do; I don’t want to see anyone drawn in or driven away by something that the interview *seems* to say but actually does not.

        In short, I’m glad you are inspired by the letter and the interviews — please pray for me and others like myself that have had a harder time warming up to Pope Francis than you have. We will come along, just as many of a more progressive perspective gradually warmed up to Pope Benedict, but we need some help to get us there.

      5. @Matthew Morelli – comment #18:
        And yet, decades and centuries of catechisms and Western rationalism have proved insufficient to sway most of the world to Christendom, let alone Roman Catholicism.

        Context is essential. This is a believer talking to a non-believer. This is not a re-statement of theology for theologian-wannabes.

        This dialogue (including the punditry) reminds me of Mark 10:17-22: the elder son looks for a justification. The words cited are insufficient for the disciple. You and I and other believers are held to a much higher standard.

        Included in that standard is the model of Pope Francis’s conversation: to affirm “all that is upright, strong, and good” in the non-believer (Cf. RCIA 145) Liturgy leads the way. But the pastoral dialogue involves finding the starting point, which is usually the intersection between belief and non-belief.

        Clearly, there was more discussed in the correspondence between these two prior to the interview. What critics have done is start at CCC 1382 and complain about no mentioning the sacrifice.

        Context is everything. This interview is a teaching moment; it’s just not teaching what you think it is.

      6. @Todd Flowerday – comment #24:


        Context IS essential. This interview left standing alone lacks it. The prior letter that Elisabeth informed me was online is a great help.

        Were this a private discussion, a private teaching moment, what was said here would have been enough, as you rightly say. Yet it was made public, and thus a teaching moment for all people – those among the Faithful and outside it.

        Left with no other context, the interview has every likelihood of confusing some of the Faithful, especially when the media begins pulling sound-bites like the ones at the top of this thread.

      7. @Matthew Morelli – comment #36:
        Pope Francis is not responsible for misinterpretation of his words. Is it better for, say, 600 million Catholics to deepen their hope and the 40 readers of Rorate Caeli to intentionally confuse themselves than it is to keep the windows shuttered and the doors closed?

        I knew priests in the 80’s who told divorced and unmarried Catholics they needed an annulment to receive Communion. Does that mean the Church should cease giving annulments, or remove marital counseling from the docket of pastors, or give up on the Sacrament of Marriage entirely?

        Wishful thinkers among elder and younger siblings will read what they want to read into whatever the pope says or doesn’t say. I prefer a Church that’s not afraid to mess up to one that is sick. So to speak.

      8. @Todd Flowerday – comment #38:

        Todd, the RC barb was wholly unneccessary as commentary there has been closed for quite a while. Also, doesn’t speak well of the charity I know that dwells in my brother’s heart.

      9. @Todd Flowerday – comment #38:

        You assume that the “600 million” who have deepened their hope have done so based on an accurate interpretation of what Pope Francis has to say. Given the half-truths that the media has told concerning much of what he has said, I can’t make that assumption.

        I am glad to see that many find hope in what Francis says — I just want that hope to be founded in something that is true.

        A Church that’s not afraid to mess up and a Church that is careless are two different things.

      10. @Matthew Morelli – comment #64:
        But people like you who don’t like the Francis-enthusiasm often claim that the secular media have it all wrong. You claim, for example, that they are pushing “half-truths.” That’s an outrageous claim, and not based in fact. All the quotes from Francis in this post are really from Francis, they are not half truths, and these quotes are accurately reported by so many secular media.

        You seem to have a suspicion of anything secular, and a paranoia about the modern world (and modern media). Pope Francis doesn’t. This separation between him and you explains much of the basis of your (mis)interpretation of him.


      11. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #66:

        Fr. Anthony,

        The statement about half-truths was more general than this post. We saw it most clearly in the way the media reacted to statement in The Big Interview about gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, as well as in the reaction to Abp. Parolin’s statement concerning married priests. This is far from being “not based in fact.”

        I never challenged the fact that the quotes are truly from Pope Francis. Yet they are often presented as out-of-context soundbites — true statements, but incomplete, and thus easily misunderstood. I am happy to see Francis-enthusiasm, but I want to see enthusiasm for what Francis actually said in the larger context of what the Church says — not some media-filtered soundbite.

        You seem to have an unhealthy lack of suspicion about the secular, and particularly about the modern media. Do you really think they have the best interests of the Church in mind?

        If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

        I am suspicious when it increasingly seems that the world loves us as its own.

      12. @Matthew Morelli – comment #64:
        The hope I see is in the methodology. The content hasn’t changed. At least not for me.

        As for the media, I never saw as much concern when B16 fanboys and girls were misunderstanding what he said and wrote. The media gets a lot of things wrong: religion, science, art–you name it. We can’t control it. I rarely bother to read it. At the risk of committing another sin against charity, I will occasionally peruse RC for the comic value more often than I surf to the Comedy Channel.

  8. Doesn’t seem like he’s “letting the fog in”-

    ” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room…’ “

  9. I believe a statement by Pope Francis in his America magazine interview explains much of the way he presents ideas. That statement got remarkably little coverage compared to how key I believe it is to understanding Pope Francis’ words.

    He wrote: “The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.”

    If you really think about that, I believe it sheds light on much of what he has said both before and after.

  10. Todd/Elisabeth,
    Mathew Morelli’s, comment addresses the subject in a very effective way. Below is my stab at it.
    Neither one of you are able to offer a clear explanation of what he’s talking about. Elisabeth mentions “…perhaps he meant…” Todd mentions something about the Pope speaking in a context that actors don’t have and then continues with his argument by identifying actors who he’d like to hear from on moral subjects. Here’s a very clear example that is contemporary, since I know that progressives like things that are contemporary. Not too long ago Miley Cyrus performed a disgusting act of lewd behavior to a national audience that certainly included many impressionable 10-14 old girls. . She doesn’t think there was anything wrong with it. To make matters worse her father, Billy Ray, who should offer some moral guidance approved and complimented her behavior. So, she has confirmation from her parent that she is offering good entertainment. From what the Pope said on the subject of right and wrong, Miley and Billy Ray would be able to conclude that they are free to continue to twerk to their hearts’ content and maybe they can make the world a better place. Ironically we discussed the use of language a couple of days ago and many people objected to the use of liturgical language that people won’t understand or be turned off by because of flowery formality. In this case the Pope isn’t offering instruction inside church, but to a general audience and the vast majority will draw no other conclusion then the one I have described. If he intended his words to be inclusive and appealing to the secular culture I think he found the right words to do just that.
    Elisabeth, what I find foggy is that I have to believe that the Pope would advise Miley not to twerk, but his words don’t support that. If they do, pretend I’m Miley and explain it me. Unless you don’t’ believe her twerking to be wrong/evil/sinful.

    1. @Michael Alexenko – comment #23:

      “Unless you don’t’ believe her twerking to be wrong/evil/sinful.”

      I do not.

      And i doubt Pope Francis would either. He might shake his head and even roll his eyes — and I imagine God would do the same — but, he would most likely not tell Miley that she is “wrong/evil/sinful.” Nor do I think he would tell Miley to please not twerk. I can easily imagine him giving a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and ask, “pray tell me, child, what was THAT that you did on that silly TV show?”

      But I digress.

      More to the point, I believe our faith is not and should not be about such finger-pointing but about love, mercy and understanding. As the pope said:

      We have to be a leavening of life and love… I believe I have already said that 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.

      This is what Pope Francis is saying, and there is NOTHING confusing about any of that.

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #25:
        I’m a little surprised. I’m not exactly sure what you might find sinful or wrong, but I think I’d like to have you around the pearly gates when or if I arrive. I understand why you’re inspired by the Pope’s words. It seems like you do believe in the concept; “… that if down deep you think something is right , then it must be so…” Could you agree that maybe the Pope could have said: “God gave us commandments and rules to live by and if we follow His rules then we’d make the world a better place”? I suppose you do follow a religion, but based on your comments I’m not sure why you would. You seem to have your own moral compass that is always pointing in the right direction. There are rules/teachings in the Catholic Church that haven’t been repealed, but I’m not sure that you’d ever find a reason for confession. Please believe me that I don’t mean that in an insulting way.

      2. @Michael Alexenko – comment #27:

        I, on the other hand, am not surprised at all that you are surprised by my response.

        That you would use Miley Cyrus’s silly and stupid performance on MTV (seriously?) as a moral compass to judge others and their faith is really sad and frankly, quite laughable. Yes, what she did was stupid and silly, but sinful? Evil? Goodness, I do not know how to even begin to respond to such hyperbole. And please, believe me also that I am not being snarky or insulting either.

        God is so much more than commandments and rules, or to use the pope’s words, “small things” and “small-minded rules.” That you obviously fail to see that baffles me, but there it is.

        @Matthew Morelli – comment #35:

        I’m glad you found the letter.

        I will also add that IMO calling this conversation between Pope Francis and Scalfari an “interview” is kind of a misnomer. To me it’s quite clear that these two like and respect each other immensely, and enjoy talking with each other on various issues. Sure, the pope agreed to have their conversation published as an interview, but this was more a conversation between two friends than anything else.

        The way this “interview’ ended — with the pope telling Scalfari that they should about women’s role next time, and Scalfari promising the pope he would tell more about his Jesuit retreat/spiritual exercise experience, for example — speaks to that effect, IMO.

        So, no, I don’t really think that this was a “teaching moment” for all, but just two (old) men, both of great intellect and strong conviction, meeting and talking, through which we get to have some glimpses and insights into the pope’s mind and heart. And I think that is lovely.

        And yes, I liked Pope Benedict 16 just as much; his “courtiers,” on the other hand, not so much 🙂

    2. @Michael Alexenko – comment #23:
      Michael, you are looking for an answer steeped in your worldview: Western Enlightenment/rationalism/science/proof. If you really want me to convince you, you’re going to need to accept my invitation to form a friendship. I think I suggested you e-mail me. Nothing in my inbox so far.

      People are not converted to Christ by an intellectual argument, even one framed in the Catechism. People convert because of grace. It has nothing to do with the rational quality of the discussion. Human reason, no matter how clever, does not lead to Christ. What was that saying? For those who do not believe no amount of proof will suffice, and for those who do believe, no amount of proof is necessary.

      When the entertainment industry discards Ms Cyrus, she might be ready for conversion. Sadly, I suspect that she will need to hit bottom before the significance of her behavior sinks in. Then she will be ready for a dialogue. Put another way, the young woman is stuck on Luke 15:13. She doesn’t appear to have moved past that yet. It appears some Catholics are stuck on 15:28-30 and haven’t moved past *that* yet. It seems Pope Francis has gotten to the end of the chapter.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #26:

        People are not converted to Christ by an intellectual argument, even one framed in the Catechism. People convert because of grace. It has nothing to do with the rational quality of the argument.

        Yes, people are converted by grace. For some, however, the road to grace travels through intellectual argument and discussion.

        As a fifteen-year-old, I hungered to know belief and faith. My Catholic high school had a “great books of morals and ethics” course, but very little in the way of catechism. The local parishes directed me to LifeTeen-like activities, which i found to be devoid of content. By this time I had read the then-new Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Small Catechism, and probably the front matter of Calvin’s Institutes. However, when I would ask parish priests questions, they would tell me to be quiet or ignore me.

        Indult traditionalism was a very socially dysfunctional culture. Still, I was respected for my questions and arguments despite my age. People gave me thoughtful and doctrinally orthodox answers, albeit often laced with invective against the ordinary form. Even so was also encouraged to keep up my Latin studies. Little did I know that Latin would become my life’s work. In sum, traditionalism, despite its social toxicity, frequently encouraged intellectual exploration.

        Some persons learn how to believe experientially. Others learn how to believe through social interaction. Yet still others, however, learn how to believe through intellectual discourse. Those in the last category have been greatly failed by the new emphasis on “ministries” and soft-peddled doctrine. I may disagree, I may leave the Church — but at least I have investigated doctrine and dogma forensically. Traditionalism provided this outlet. Postmodern liturgical culture often does not, instead substituting activity for inquiry.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #28:
        It’s rather curious that a person (like me) who is a product of higher education would be such a skeptic on the intellect. I think the road to grace is through cultivating a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. The intellect may be part of that relationship, like one might find in mentor and student. But I think the more apt metaphor is apprentice and master.

        I really think it’s less about learning and more about doing.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #26:
        Thank you for your invitation but I honestly overlooked it. I’d rather think that we might find more mutual ground then you convincing me.
        I think you’re giving the Pope less credit than I am. He believes we must engage and spread the Good Word. What is the purpose of his interview if he is unable to influence the hearts and minds of people? Christianity was spread through teaching about Christ, then it’s up to the those listening if they accept the message. My point is that it better be a good one. The Pope is offering up specific ideas that I would hope he believes are effective in attracting interest. It’s obvious Christ taught people in logical ways as evidence by the parable you cited. I will try and get in touch with you sometime soon. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Jeremiah 31:33 This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

    Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

    We should put more faith in what scripture states than in our own ability to judge others. Do you know how Miley Cyrus really feels? Or anybody else for that matter? Of course she knows it’s wrong but she is trying to sell her music.

    Look, it’s really very simple. The ability to distinguish between the two, between good vs evil, right from wrong is the bedrock of western jurisprudence and has been for over a 1000 years. Individuals know the difference. Only those who know the difference are allowed to stand trial for crimes. Those who are mentally “deficient” and those who plead insanity do not stand trial and are not executed for homicides (except in Texas of course). It is understood that everybody else knows the difference between right or wrong, good vs evil. Now whether they decide to follow right or wrong is another matter. Even hardened, sociopathic serial killers are put on trial because even they know the difference between right and wrong.

    The ability to distinguish between the two is a very basic tenet of civilization. Francis knows this and it is a good place to start, good vs evil everybody knows the difference, catholics, atheists, socialists, agnostics, etc.

    No fog here, easy to figure out. If one doesn’t know the difference then they have a problem.

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #31:
      You might want to address your comments to Elisabeth. I would think that people, at least on this site would find it wrong but she surprised me as I wrote. God also provided very clear rules in the Bible did he not? He didn’t just speak in general terms as in the two verses you quoted. I don’t know what is in Miley’s heart and for that reason I’m not all convinced that she believes what she is doing is wrong. Elisabeth doesn’t why would Miley? You claim that she does, but how do you know? If we live in a world where people know right from wrong then why do governments made up of educated men and women declare that abortion is legal? That is a collective decision that has been studied in detail, but yet it’s considered to be “reproductive rights”. How can groups of people be resolute in their beliefs about such a procedure draw different conclusions that it is evil to allow and evil to prohibit it?

      1. @Michael Alexenko – comment #34:
        Hello Michael,
        It’s not so much that people don’t know right from wrong, they do, but do they follow it? Free will plays a big part. A person may know stealing from a cash register is wrong but will do so anyway. A person may know that abortion is wrong but do so because it is convenient. Even the most hardened pro abortionist or Planned Parenthood spokesperson will state, as they have done so in the media, that they want to reduce the number of abortions, because they are wrong. However, not to give them a free pass, because of narcisism they support abortion because they have set up a false dichotomy, no abortion, someone will “supposedly suffer” because of an unintended pregnancy. So framing the argument as one evil against another evil, allows them to cloak their guilt because they believe they are choosing the lesser evil. The problem is that the argument is framed wrongly and the choice is wrong.
        Beginning with good vs evil I think Francis has cleverly maneuvered into an area that all can begin with, good vs evil, yes everybody can agree on that. Then move into the gray areas where we disagree and dialogue.

        You posit a great question, how do well educated people disagree so vehemently about abortion. I think that it is because we see it as evil whereas they consider it wrong, know it’s wrong but still promote it because they don’t see is as “evil” or see it as the lesser of two evils. We need to convince them otherwise If we just shout at each other and don’t dialogue then we lose the opportunity to stop abortions. But unless we begin our discussions on some common ground like good vs evil then the abortions continue and then aren’t we also a bit responsible for them?

        I prefer Jesus’ way. Come down out of that Sycamore tree Zacchaeus, because I’m coming as a guest to your house tonight to talk! Moved by the audacity of Jesus’ undeserved love toward him, Zacchaeus repented and made restitution.

      2. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #37:
        Hi Dale,
        You make a very good case for what you believe the Pope’s approach to be. I think we disagree on its effectiveness. At this point I believe a narrative of Pope Francis has been formed as a result of his long interviews and various comments that are then reduced to media sound bites. That being; he seems to be a guy who loves the poor and he wants to be a man of the people. He doesn’t want to judge people or their actions. He’s not so concerned about abortion or homosexuality and would like to undo the rigidity of his predecessor. After six months in office he’s still referred to as an enigma. Progressives believe they have their guy and traditionalists are hoping that he’s being misinterpreted. My reaction to his words is simply that I don’t think it plays well to a general audience. They hear what they want to hear and he gives them plenty of latitude to arrive at their own conclusions. I believe that the average person in this country believes that he’s very lenient on moral issues. I think you disagree with that and you think that he wants to win the hearts and minds of people over the long run. If that is the Pope’s approach then I don’t think it has a high probability of success. He’s established himself at best an enigmatic figure and at worse a liberal ideologue who believes most moral teachings of the Church need to be thrown out and rewritten. Attention spans are too short and if the Pope imagines that he will conduct a decade long dialogue with people and eventually bring them around to Catholic tenets then I wish him the best.

        I deliberately chose an outrageous act because I thought we’d find common ground on an extreme example that would help us arrive at a starting point to discuss the Pope’s words. You didn’t think the example to be that extreme. I’m left scratching my head.

      3. @Michael Alexenko – comment #42:
        For all the criticism of the reduction of Pope Francis to “media sound bites,” I don’t know why the critics seem to be the main ones talking about them. I read the latest interview twice yesterday. I’ve read the other one at least four times in part, and I send my students to the source.

        Catholics can do all the hand-wringing they want, but they don’t control the media nor do they impact the ones listening to it. If you don’t like the way the message is portrayed, then please, for the love of grace, get out there and do it yourself.

        Honestly: it’s not about what you or I think is a well-packaged and accurate/orthodox message.

        But this message does expose a possible lack of faith, hope, and love–each in turn. Do we really think the message of Christ is so fragile and weak that it always needs to be rendered with theological accuracy to as to withstand the penetrating critique of the self-styled orthodox Catholics? Do we not think that millions of people who are living dissolute lives are not in some quantity ready to listen to a better message? The love of St Monica brought a sinner back from the brink.

        This interview is a catechetical gem: people are being apprenticed in how to evangelize. It’s time to go do it.

      4. @Michael Alexenko – comment #42:

        “I deliberately chose an outrageous act because I thought we’d find common ground on an extreme example that would help us arrive at a starting point to discuss the Pope’s words. You didn’t think the example to be that extreme. I’m left scratching my head.”

        Now this is what I would call a confusing and muddy statement.

        For I really do not understand what you’re trying to say here.

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:

        John Thavis has made a similar comment: “I think the pope will continue to conduct this very public conversation with the idea of inspiring similar bridge-building efforts throughout the church.”

        Which I think makes total sense.

      5. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #44:
        We were trying to established what people understand to be good vs. evil. I thought it would be clear that the twerk is sinful and it’s influence on young girls because of who Miley is to be evil. You didn’t and you don’t see anything wrong with it. We are so far apart that I’m not sure where to start. That is what I meant. If I’m misunderstood that’s OK, the Pope can’t afford to be, repeatedly.

      6. @Michael Alexenko – comment #45:

        Alas, we are going to have to agree to disagree, because I really don’t understand your point.


        @Jeffrey Pinyan -comment #46:

        “abortion is a blessing…”

        Good grief.

      7. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #37:
        Even the most hardened pro abortionist or Planned Parenthood spokesperson will state, as they have done so in the media, that they want to reduce the number of abortions, because they are wrong.

        That’s not true. There are plenty of supporters of abortion who do not believe that abortion is wrong, or that there should be an attempt to reduce the number of abortions. There are people who argue that “abortion is, in fact, a moral good”, who preach that “abortion is a blessing and our work is not done” (you can Google for THAT humdinger of a sermon), who are all for abortions that are safe and legal but not rare.

      8. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #46:

        Jeff, I don’t think implying that I am lying will get us anywhere.

        Have you had discussions w/ hardened pro choice individuals?
        I have.
        If you don’t agree then state you don’t agree but to categorically state “That’s not true” is well, below you.

      9. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #50:
        Not to speak for Jeffery, but I didn’t see what he said as accusing you of lying, only stating you were wrong, and then provided evidence that at least some hardened pro choice individuals not only don’t see abortion as a wrong or lesser of two evils, but as a moral good, which seems to me undermines your original statement to the effect that even those extremely pro-choice ‘know’ that it is ‘wrong’.
        Whether that sentiment is shared by the hardened pro-choice people you know and have discussed things with is beside the point, because of your original claims. Your next step would be to somehow show that those who see it as a good are either deceiving themselves or others, and that deep down they would agree with you, but I’m not sure how you’d do it.

      10. @Brendan McInerny – comment #52:
        Brendan, let Jeff and I discuss this.
        As far as your assertion:he was “only stating you were wrong” that is not correct, he said it was “untrue” not “wrong”.
        I have responded to his post. Let Jeff and I disagree.

      11. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #50:
        I apologize. Would it have been better if I said “That’s incorrect” or “That’s not entirely accurate”? I didn’t say you were lying. People make comments on this blog all the time, some of which are correct/factual, some of which are incorrect/erroneous. That doesn’t mean every time someone says something wrong that they’re lying.

        I have watched videos of abortion advocates who admit that abortion is murder, yes. Those would be people like the ones you mention, who acknowledge abortion to be an evil, and yet who are still in favor of allowing abortion.

        I’ve also watched videos of abortion advocates who deny that there is anything wrong with abortion, and do not see any need to reduce the number of abortions. So I can’t agree with you that “even the most hardened pro abortionist” says such-and-such, because I’ve heard some — who I would categorize as “most hardened pro abortionist” — say the opposite.

      12. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #55:
        In fact Nancy Pelosi cites St. Jerome as her support that ancient Catholic doctrine allows abortion. I.E. noting at all wrong with it.

      13. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #55:
        Thank you Jeff for your response.
        Yes, it would have been better to state that you didn’t agree or you thought the statement was not accurate. Saying it’s “untrue” can cast aspersions on one’s intent and can imply, according to my thesaurus: (includes but not limited to): false, lying, misleading, dishonest, deceptive, spurious, erroneous, fallacious, untruthful.
        Of note, I didn’t state all pro abortionists, I was too ambiguous and that is my fault.
        Let’s agree to disagree friend.
        Let’s get past this. Let’s just agree to disagree.

      14. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #60:
        Of note, I didn’t state all pro abortionists

        I read your “even the most hardened” qualifier as saying that the sentiment was universal even to the extremes. That was what I disagreed with.

        Let’s get past this. Let’s just agree to disagree.

        I’m a little disappointed, because I think by just agreeing to disagree we are ignoring part of the problem at hand. It’s my contention that people can know the difference between good and evil, not be sociopaths, and yet believe that something is good when it is objectively not good. I’m surprised that someone can disagree with that contention so easily.

        If that contention is correct, and there are people who believe for example that abortion is actually a good rather than a necessary evil, then that seriously impacts our mission as the Church to “encourage [people] to proceed toward that which [they think] to be the Good.”

      15. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #62:
        Jeff, things aren’t as black and white in real life.
        For example, you believe that abortion is wrong, and I do. So far so good.
        Someone takes an abortion pill 24 hrs after sex, wrong or evil? Now you might say it’s evil. That is ok if you believe that conception occurs at fertilization. But many of my colleagues don’t agree that conception occurs at fertilization therefore it’s not evil because a fetus/person has not been conceived. So if a woman has been raped takes an abortion pill you might say she committed an evil act whereas many physicians may say the opposite, taking the pill to terminate the pregnancy was a good thing because 1. no personhood and 2. lifelong trauma.
        That is why we need to dialogue. It’s messy because in order to convince some physicians that it was evil you have to convince them that it was an abortion because you believe that conception begins at the moment of fertilization. Now you’re in their territory of embryology. Some of them would say don’t dictate to us what is conception and we won’t dictate morality to religion. It’s this messy gray area that we need to dialogue but just to say it’s evil because I think it’s evil won’t get anybody anywhere. Also, you’ve puzzled me with your statement: “and there are people who believe for example that abortion is actually a good rather than a necessary evil, then that seriously impacts our mission as the Church to “encourage [people] to proceed toward that which [they think] to be the Good.”
        Just because people disagree about what is good vs evil doesn’t mean that we allow that to impact our mission. Are we that frail? That is what dialogue and discussion are about.
        As far as agreeing to disagree I mean that to mean that this is not the site to go into long discussion about this, we are going far from the topic at hand. I personally don’t have the time and I suspect that you don’t either.

      16. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #37:
        I’m not sure how to make sense of the certain knowledge of right versus wrong, the uncertain practice of right versus wrong, and good and evil. The verbal ‘slippage’ here seems to reinforce the position that people might very well not have an innate knowledge of good and evil.
        Mr. Pinyan’s comment regarding some pro-choice/abortion advocates already seems to trouble the claim that *all* are in basic agreement that it is at least a lesser of two evils, if not a greater of two evils. Other examples of evil can come to mind in which the ones doing evil are not only not aware they are doing so, but think they are doing a good (global capitalism has encouraged this on a wide scale among the extremely wealthy as individuals and the wealthy nations).
        Your extreme example above of Nazi leadership is flawed. In addition to an historical error (the final solution is typically thought to refer to plans to exterminate the Jews systematically in late 194/early 1942 and carried out [indeed, sped up] to the very end of the war. Also, there are plenty of documents from the upper echelons of the Nazi’s on the matter, even using the term ‘final solution’ – the debate is whether Hitler had these plans all along, or if the holocaust was somewhat improvised), the example only indicates that Hitler et. al. anticipated resistance to their plan. That is, they anticipated that some might see what they were doing as evil but an awareness that some might see it as evil does not mean ‘knowing good and evil’. Indeed, from the course of their actions, I would say that they saw it as a Good – not just a means to an end, but an end in and of itself, to be accomplished no matter what, even as the possibility of conquest was over. Now, when a conscience is so distorted that evil acts are seen to be not just good for me right now (as a thief might think) but Good in and of themselves, “evil” does not go far enough. “Demonic” is the only word that comes close to fitting.

      17. @Brendan McInerny – comment #49:
        Brendan, I don’t agree.
        Everybody knows the difference between right and wrong. Even Sociopaths who are serial killers know the difference. That is the bedrock of jurisprudence whether you agree or not, that is just fact. One does know it’s wrong to commit genocide. Nazi leadership were sociopaths without any empathy for victims. We’ll have to agrree to disagree Brendan.

      18. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #51:
        You could be right that we have to agree to disagree here. It is certainly the case that I cannot agree with your assertions – but as I said in the earlier post, some of the confusion might be coming from the ambiguity of the words “know”, “good”, “evil”, “right”, “wrong” etc. The issue of jurisprudence seems not to bank on whether someone ‘knows the difference of right and wrong’ (which I also don’t think we can identify with good/evil, simply because what is right legally may still be objectively evil), but whether someone is capable of knowing the difference. In other words, the opinion of the convict as to whether his or her actions were evil or not is of no concern to the judgment of the court (so far as I know, in any legal system anywhere). What is of concern is that the convict be of such a mind that he or she can discern right/wrong – even if they are wrong in this discernment.

        So, if by ‘everyone knows right from wrong’ you mean ‘many people are capable of knowing right/wrong’, I think we can agree.

      19. @Brendan McInerny – comment #53:
        Hello Brendan,
        If people are “capable” of knowing right from wrong as you say but don’t really know right from wrong, good vs evil then doesn’t that imply that there is no guilt on their part for committing crimes, sin and mayhem? So if Himmler didn’t know it was wrong or evil to kill 6 million Jews then he bears no moral (not talking legal here) responsibility?
        I’ll give you the last word. (I know we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one).

      20. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #63:
        Thanks for keeping this open even though you’d like to agree to disagree – a proposition to which I don’t agree. LOL.
        No, the morally responsible person is responsible not only for their actions but also their conscience. Himmler of course bears incredible moral responsibility for the execution of Jews, poles, roma, etc. because the act was objectively wrong, and Himmler was capable of knowing that it was wrong. His moral responsibility does not derive from his personal conviction of the rectitude of his act, but on being a free, moral subject and performing an action.
        The alternative, as I see it, of insisting that they not only have a capacity for knowing right/wrong but that they have also correctly exercised this capacity, and still done wrong (and ONLY thereby can be held responsible for doing wrong) undermines your desire to have a thing called moral responsibility at all because it hinges on whether or not someone knows the objective order you assert that they do – but surely they could assert the contrary. And given Mr. Pinyan’s line of argument, I think there’s plenty of reason to believe that there is no universal, innate sense of right/wrong/good/evil.
        There. Done.
        As to Francis, I hope that all he says and does is a means to renew the Church and reach out to the lost sheep. But I am concerned the his sometimes not wholly clear statements are not serving as an occasion for real ‘discussion and dialogue’, but something else entirely. There are wolves among those lost sheep as well.

      21. @Brendan McInerny – comment #69:
        Brendan, that just doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t hold water. If as you say he was capable but he didn’t know it was wrong then contrary to what you say he is not responsible, his ignorance was “invincible”.

        Catechism: 1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous “judgment”, the evil committed by the person CANNOT BE IMPUTED to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder.

        You also state: “I think there’s plenty of reason to believe that there is no universal, innate sense of right/wrong/good/evil.”
        and you also state: “undermines your “desire” to have a thing called moral responsibility at all”
        Catechism 1776: “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart A LAW INSCRIBED BY GOD . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”
        Catechism 1778. . . [Conscience] is a messenger of Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.
        Catechism 1784…From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience.

        And having an informed conscience assumes that one knows the difference and the need to form their conscience.
        Catechism 1783: Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to REASON, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator

      22. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #70:
        thanks, Dale – some basic moral theology 101 and common sense. Fundamentalism, of course, doesn’t understand what you have posted.

    2. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #31:
      Do you know how Miley Cyrus really feels? … Of course she knows it’s wrong but she is trying to sell her music.

      Dale, how can you say “of course she knows it’s wrong” without knowing how she really feels?

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #40:
        Hello Jeffrey,
        there is a difference between how she “feels” and “knowing” the difference between good vs evil. As I stated in #31 knowing the difference between good vs evil is the bedrock of western jurisprudence and has been for almost 1000 years. Now, how she responds to right vs wrong is another matter. She knows that it is wrong but feels that she can get away with it outlandish behavior to become the talk of the town and sell more music. If she didn’t know it was wrong how did she know it would get everyone’s attention and sell more records? Because it’s shock.

      2. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #48:
        If she didn’t know it was wrong how did she know it would get everyone’s attention and sell more records?

        Perhaps because she knows that some people think it’s wrong, and that those people would create a furor over it, thus giving her free publicity.

        There are situations in life where, for example, young people do something to be “rebellious”, not necessarily because they think the thing they’re doing is wrong or bad or sinful, but because they’ve been told by people in authority (e.g. their parents) NOT to do the thing, because the authority figures perceive the action as wrong or bad or sinful. The young person might think the action is not wrong at all, and that it is the authority figure whose conception of the action is in fact wrong.

        I’d be very surprised to learn that every 18-year-old girl who enters the pornography industry actually thinks she’s doing something wrong. I think it’s more likely that some of them think pornography is a good, fun, healthy, and acceptable human act; and that those members of society who think otherwise are the ones who are wrong.

        Do the psychologists who promote regular masturbation for youths as part of sex education actually think they’re promoting something wrong?

      3. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #57:
        Jeff, I think it depends on our definition of good vs evil and right from wrong. I think there is a difference. For example, teenagers can rebell and involve themselves in, lets say gambling. Is this wrong? Yes. Is this evil? No. Ask a teen if rebelling by gambling or drugs is “wrong” and they may say it’s not. Ask a teen if it is ok to shoot a someone to rebell and most, possibly all may say no that’s evil. Depends on the level. As far as masturbation may be “wrong” but not “evil”. Now, the church may think it’s wrong but many psychologists and priests for that matter state it isn’t “wrong” and definitely not evil.

        To get back to what Francis is attempting to accomplish. He is starting with good vs evil areas that most can agree on then from there discuss the right vs wrong issues.

        I applaud him and think he is on the right tract.

      4. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #61:
        For example, teenagers can rebell and involve themselves in, lets say gambling. Is this wrong? Yes. Is this evil? No.

        I think we’d have to start by establishing why a teenager rebelling via gambling is wrong.

  12. The pope of hope — I love that. What an insightful phrase. Thanks, Dale.

    I’ve heard the reaction from people that they hope Francis has 1) a food taster; and 2) bulletproof garments to wear, and a force field around him. Some may not appreciate the candor, the vision and the hope.

    I know I appreciate them.

  13. Pope Francis echoes Gaudium et Spes in this interview, not only when he seeks to share the hopes and joys of all people, but also when he talks about conscience:
    For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor.

    He is not naive, so he knows that many consciences are misguided. But he has faith, and trusts that God will speak in each person’s heart if they will listen. Listening is the first step, and it is what he encourages when he calls for all to obey their conscience.

  14. I know I am entering this conversation quite late in the game, but I would like to respond to Mr. Pinyan’s observations at #4. It may be helpful to have the original Italian in order to clarify what might be meant.

    An earlier version of your first citation appears in the interview in Italian as: “Ciascuno di noi ha una sua visione del Bene e anche del Male. Noi dobbiamo incitarlo a procedere verso quello che lui pensa sia il Bene.” In my slavishly literal (but inclusive) translation this could be rendered: “Each one of us has his/her own vision of the Good and also of (the) Evil. We ought to encourage that person to proceed toward that which he/she thinks to be the Good.” I would suggest that using upper-case for Good and Evil brings the discourse into the realm of philosophy and theology, with the simple point being made that (philosophically) the Good reveals itself little by little to those who sincerely seek it and (theologically) the Personified Good we know as Christ likewise reveals Himself to those who sincerely seek him. What seems to be being said is a catechetical strategy: capitalize on the innate human orientation toward the Good and purify it through witness, conversation, shared service, etc.

    Your second citation is “Il Figlio di Dio si è incarnato per infondere nell’anima degli uomini il sentimento della fratellanza.” I believe the English translation here is incorrect. My slavishly literal (though inclusive) translation would be: “The Son of God became incarnate/was enfleshed to ground/infuse into the soul of men/human soul the sentiment/feeling of fraternity/brotherhood/human solidarity.” The sentence does NOT say that the Son of God became incarnate in human souls.

    I hope this is helpful.

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