This story was updated at 2:25 p.m EST to include a brief statement from the Vatican, which does not deny what Scalfari reported about Pope Franics, only saying it "cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was effectively said, but represent more a personal free interpretation of that which he [Scalfari] heard." (See below.)
In the latest edition of La Repubblica, Pope Francis' longtime atheist friend and interviewer, Eugenio Scalfari, claims that the Pope told him that once Jesus Christ became incarnate, he was a man, a "man of exceptional virtues" but "not at all a God."
The teaching of the Catholic Church and most Christian churches is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was incarnated as fully man and fully God.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it. (464)"
According to the highly respected Catholic blog, Rorate Caeli, and Radio Spada in Italy, Scalfari states in the Oct. 9 edition of La Repubblica (behind paywall) the following: "Those who, as it has happened many times with me, have had the luck of meeting him and speaking to him with the greatest cultural intimacy, know that Pope Francis conceives Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, man, not God incarnate."
"Once incarnate, Jesus stops being a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross."
Scalfari continues, "When I had the chance of discussing these sentences, Pope Francis told me: 'They are the proven proof that Jesus of Nazareth, once having become a man, was, though a man of exceptional virtues, not at all a God.'"
In a March 2018 interview with Scalfari, Pope Francis reportedly said, "There is no Hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls."
That interview caused an uproar and the Vatican claimed that what the Pope reportedly said was a "reconstruction" and not "quoted." The Vatican did not deny what Scalfari reported but said it could not "be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father."
The Pope himself never denied what Scalfari reported and the article never ran a correction or removed the article from its website.
Commenting on this latest revelation, Rorate Caeli said, "Now, obviously, as it has often happened with Francis' informal interviews with Eugenio Scalfari, some will try to deny the veracity of what Scalfari, a seasoned journalist, affirms.
"Let us just recall, for the record of events, that there is no reason to doubt its general accuracy. We are way past the time of doubting the general accuracy of the Scalfari quotes.
"Not now, that the papal interviews to Scalfari have been published on the Vatican website, that they have been occasionally published by the Vatican publishing house (LEV) itself - for instance, as part of the book to the right."
In a statement issued Oct. 9, reported by Church Militant in Rome, the Vatican said, "As has been affirmed in other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes between quotes to the Holy Father during his colloquies held with him cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was effectively said, but represent more a personal and free interpretation of that which he heard, as appears entirely evident from what was written today concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ."
Church Militant's Michael Voris commented, "That is the relevant part of the statement, and it, in itself, is now creating its own firestorm because it does not actually deny Scalfari's characterization, merely hinting at the possibility."
"Likewise, it does not affirm in any fashion that Pope Francis does indeed hold the divinity of Christ during Our Savior's earthly ministry," said Voris.