Well, well, well, look what the garrulous Pope Francis has told his Italian editor friend Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica:

“It is true — Pope Francis answered — it is a truth and for that matter the family that is the basis of any society changes continuously, as all things change around us. We must not think that the family does not exist any longer, it will always exist, because ours is a social species, and the family is the support beam of sociability, but it cannot be avoided that the current family, open as you say, contains some positive aspects, and some negative ones. … The diverse opinion of the bishops is 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 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.” [Rorate Caeli translation, emphasis added]

So the Synod did not give Francis the result he wanted, so he’s going to push for what he wants anyway (and don’t forget, he has the power to overrule the Synod). The Trads and the conservatives were right all along.

At this point, you can’t be shocked by this. What I find more shocking is that the Pope knows full well that many, even most, of his bishops are against what he proposes, believing it to be heresy. And he telephones a newspaper editor (an atheist newspaper editor at that!) to undercut his own Synod. Loose cannons are less dangerous than this pontiff.

You see this, from one of the lead Douthat detractors?

I’m posting this from the Houston airport, en route to home. I ran across this passage in The Brothers Karamazov, and thought of the liberal Catholic theologians who denounced Douthat, and who are scandalized by the resistance they have called forth. The speaker here is Dmitri Karamazov:

And Rakitin doesn’t like God, oof, how he doesn’t! That’s the sore spot in all of them! But they conceal it. They lie. They pretend. That’s the sort spot in all of them! ‘What, are you going to push for that in the department of criticism?’ I asked. ‘Well, they won’t let me do it openly,’ he said, and laughed. ‘But,’ I asked, ‘how will man be after that? Without God and the future life? It means everything is permitted now, one can do anything?’ ‘Didn’t you know?’ he said. And he laughed. ‘Everything is permitted to the intelligent man,’ he said.

UPDATE: And so now, the Vatican is walking this back. Excerpt:

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the Register Nov. 2: “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. 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.”

Father Lombardi said he would not be issuing a statement about the matter as those who have “followed the preceding events and work in Italy know the way Scalfari writes and knows these things well.” Over the past two years, Scalfari has written several such articles following conversations with Pope Francis, each of which has drawn controversy.

This exchange appears no different, which raises the question: why does the Pope continue to speak to someone such as Scalfari, and discuss such sensitive subjects with him, when he knows he is unreliable but likely to report his words without reference to a recording or transcript?

Exactly. On the face of it, it would appear that Pope Francis is an idiot to keep calling and talking to this guy who keeps misquoting him. I don’t believe for a second that Pope Francis is an idiot. This strategy allows him to signal to liberals what he intends to do, while preserving himself plausible deniability (“That socialist geezer doesn’t even write anything down! How can you believe a thing he says?”) to Catholics inclined to give the pope the benefit of the doubt.