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Benhur Arcayan/WikiCommons

Benhur Arcayan/WikiCommons

Pope Francis’ longtime atheist friend and interviewer, Eugenio Scalfari is making headlines again. He now claims in his new book and La República that Pope Francis told him that Jesus Christ did not rise bodily from the dead but “in the semblance of a spirit.” This statement contradicts not only the teachings of the Church but all the teachings of the Gospels.

In his new book and the Nov. 5 edition of the periodical he founded La República, Scalfari writes 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.”

Section 645 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “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.”

“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.”

This is not the first time Scalfari has said that the Pope said something controversial. He said in an October edition of the La República that the Pope told him that once Jesus Christ became incarnate, he was a “man of exceptional virtues” but “not at all God”.

This would also go against the teaching of not only the Catholic Church, but also most Christian churches – that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was incarnated as fully man and fully God.

Two highly respected Catholic blogs, Rorate Caeli and Radio Spada say that in the Oct. 9 edition of La República, Scalfari states, “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 then says, “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 brief statement from the Vatican, there isn’t a denial of what Scalfari reported about Pope Francis, but the Vatican said that 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.