Vatican: Pope Francis Has Not ‘Abolished Sin’

By Barbara Boland | January 3, 2014 | 12:50 PM EST

Pope Francis. (AP)

( -- The Vatican found it necessary on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin” after a prominent Italian atheist (and interviewer of the pope), Eugenio Scalfari, wrote that the pontiff  had effectively done so through his words and actions.

Scalfari’s article, published in La Repubblica on Dec. 29, was entitled  “Francis’ Revolution: He Has Abolished Sin.”  According to Reuters, Scalfari reached this conclusion in his “long, treatise-like” article  because of Francis’ belief that God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” is wrong. “Those who really follow the Pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our [human] condition as sinners," Lombardi said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ ... Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’” (1847, 1849)

Adam and Eve are tempted by the Devil and eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. (public domain image)

This is not the atheist Scalfari’s first run-in with the Vatican. On Oct 1,  he published an interview in La Repubblica based on his recollections of a long, private conversation he had with Pope Francis. That interview was criticized after Scalfari quoted the pope saying, among other things, that “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.”

Doubt was cast on Scalfari’s recollection of the interview, which he conducted without notes or audio recordings, and Scalfari then said it was “really possible” that some of the ideas he quoted as the Pope’s “were not shared by the Pope himself," reported the National Catholic Register.  Scalfari said he had made additions to “help the flow of the article.”

The Scalfari interview was eventually removed from the Vatican website because, according to Fr. Lombardi, the interview was not reliable on “the level of each individual point analysed.”