In his new book and in the periodical he founded, La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, a long-time friend of Pope Francis and frequent papal interviewer, claims that the Pope told him that Jesus Christ did not rise bodily from the dead but “in the semblance of a spirit.”
This notion is a contradiction of Church teaching and the Gospels.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 645, it states, ” By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.” (Emphasis added.)
“Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm,” states the Catechism. “For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.”
In the Gospel of John (20:24-29) it says that after the resurrection, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
In the Nov. 5 edition of La Repubblica and in the introduction to his new book, Scalfari states that Pope Francis said, “He [Jesus] was a man until he was placed in the tomb by the women who recomposed his body. That night, in the tomb, the man [Jesus] disappeared and came forth from the grotto in the semblance of a spirit that met the women and the Apostles while still preserving the shadow of the person, and then he definitely disappeared.”
In October, Scalfari stated in La Repubblica that Pope Francis had told him that Jesus incarnate was just a man while on Earth, not both Man and God as the Catholic Church teaches, as well as most Protestant churches.
In addition to the gospel teaching about Thomas, John 20: 19-21 says, “On the evening of that [resurrection] day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”
In a response to Church Militant, the Holy See Press Office did not deny what Scalfari said about the Pope. Instead, they released the following statement, “As already stated on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes in quotation marks to the Holy Father during the interviews he had cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was actually said, but rather represent a personal and free interpretation of those who listened, as appears completely evident from what is written today regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ.”
That is a non-denial denial. The Press Office does not state that what Scalfari wrote was false; it claims only that it “cannot be considered as a faithful account.” There is no clear denial, no demand that Scalfari correct his article or retract it, and no denial by the Pope himself.
This has happened on several occasions when Scalfari has reported interviews and conversations he has engaged in with Pope Francis, in person and reportedly often over the telephone. The news causes shock waves around the world, Catholics ask for clarification, and the Vatican releases a vague, non-denial response.
Pope Francis apparently has yet to publicly upbraid Scalfari, correct the record, or ask that Scalfari’s articles be taken down. In 2018, Scalfari reported that Pope Francis told him there is no Hell. The Pope never denied what his old friend published.
Italian journalist Antonio Socci, as reported by LifeSiteNews, said of this latest scandal, “Scalfari continues to attribute to Bergoglio quotes that contain unheard-of theological enormities and no one from the Vatican cares in the least of denying, nor do they tell Scalfari to stop. Catholics think: those who keep silent agree.”
Nick Donnelly, a Catholic deacon in England tweeted, “Any decent pope would immediately issue a denial of Scalfari’s allegations that he’s a heretic. A proper, functioning CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] would issue a statement pointing out the dangers of such heresies to reassure the faithful. Bishops worthy of their office would be outraged. Instead, NOTHING.”
Donnelly also told Church Militant, “The Scalfari claims about Francis’ heretical beliefs are so shocking, and the Pope’s adamant silence so incomprehensible, we have to assume that this is an accurate account of their conversations.”
“The claim that Francis denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus takes us into the area of de fide doctrine,” he said. “Every time we recite the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed we proclaim the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
In the past, an ecumenical council would have been convened to condemn Christological heresies.”