On November 1, 2015, a report by Italian Journalist Antonio Scalfari was published in La Repubblica, claiming that Pope Francis had declared that communion would be made available to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. On November 2, Father Federico Lombardi—the head of the Vatican’s Press office—denied that that the Pope made these comments, stating, “As has already occurred in the past, Scalfari refers in quotes what the Pope supposedly told him, but many times it does not correspond to reality, since he does not record nor transcribe the exact words of the Pope, as he himself has said many times.” He added, “So it is clear that what is being reported by him in the latest article about the divorced and remarried is in no way reliable and cannot be considered as the Pope’s thinking.” Indeed, Scalfari has himself admitted to not transcribing or recording his interviews, but instead writing them down from memory.
In 2013, he told a meeting with French journalists from the Foreign Press Association, “I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that I write his answers with my own words.” Scalfari’s first interview with Pope Francis, published on October 1, 2013, was similarly contested by Vatican spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, who noted, “The information in the interview is reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed.” After the article was removed from the Vatican’s website, where it had been published, Scalfari conceded, “Some of the Pope’s words I reported were not shared by Pope Francis.”
According to Sclafari, Pope Francis called him on the evening of October 28 to discuss an article Scalfari had written about the Synod on the Family, which met from October 4-25.
In the article he states, “You can imagine my happiness as a non-believer privileged by the friendship of Francis.” Francis spoke about the varying opinions expressed at the Synod regarding admittance of civilly remarried Catholics into communion despite the validity of their Sacramental marriage.
He writes that Pope Francis views the diversity of opinion among the Bishops as, “…part of this modernity of the Church and of the diverse societies in which she operated, but the goal is the same, and for that which regards the admission of the divorced to the Sacraments, [it] confirms that this principle has been accepted by the Synod. This is the bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.”
Commenting on the purpose of the Synod on October 24, Pope Francis remarked, “[The synod] was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.” The final document encouraged greater immersion and assistance on the part of pastors in the discernment process of divorced and civilly re-married Catholics but it did not directly address the issue at hand. Ultimately, the idea of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics has been received in varying ways by those within the Church. Some prominent leaders such as German Cardinal Walter Kasper openly support it while others contend that it is inherently incongruent with and challenges the Church’s teachings on the indissolubility of a valid sacramental marriage.