It’s not every day that you get to sit down at tea time with His Holiness.
But that’s precisely what happened a couple weeks ago for the prominent Italian journalist and atheist Eugenio Scalfari. An unexpected phone call from the most powerful figure in Western Christianity today, Pope Francis, became an intimate, in-person chat and the promise of another conversation in the near future.
The following interview contains some provocative nuggets. Here are just a few of them for those who can’t read the full transcript:
On evangelism—and here I submit that the Pope has much to teach evangelicals:
“Convert you (addressing Scalfari)? Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”
On the question of whether there is one true vision of the Good:
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”
On the influence of mystics in the history of the church (the church today could use more of these not less):
“A religion without mystics is a philosophy.”
On the definition of grace (an ongoing theme here at this intersection between God and life):
“Someone who is not touched by grace may be a person without blemish and without fear, as they say, but he will never be like a person who has touched grace… Grace is not part of consciousness, it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason. Even you (to Scalfari) without knowing it, could be touched by grace.”
On women and the church:
(Upon escorting Scalfari to the door with the promise that the conversation will continue) “We will also discuss the role of women in the Church. Remember that the Church (la chiesa) is feminine.”