The emergence of allegations that Pope Francis denied the divinity of Jesus Christ has prompted the Vatican to step forward and refute these claims, the Catholic News Agency reports.
According to the media outlet, the rebuttal was issued in response to a column in La Repubblica penned by the newspaper’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari, who wrote that “Pope Francis conceives Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, a man, not God incarnate”; the journalist did not claim, however, that he interviewed the pope recently, but said that “this was a topic he had discussed with Pope Francis at some time in the past.”
"As already stated on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes in quotation marks to the Holy Father during talks with him cannot be considered a faithful account of what was actually said but represent a personal and free interpretation of what he heard, as appears completely evident from what is written today regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ", director of the Holy See’s press office Matteo Bruni said in a statement on 9 October.
In his column, Scalfari sought to support his thesis about Christ not being divine by using examples from Scriptures that mention Jesus praying, and raised these points to the pontiff.
"'They are the definite proof that Jesus of Nazareth, once he became a man, even if he was a man of exceptional virtue, was not a God'," the pope allegedly told him, as quoted by the news agency.
The media outlet also points out that the pontiff has made frequent references to Christ’s divinity, which does not correlate well with Scalfari’s allegations.
In 2015, Scalfari also reportedly claimed that Pope Francis made comments denying the existence of hell, with the Vatican dismissing these allegations as well.