(WASHINGTON POST) Pope Francis cranked up his charm offensive on the world outside the Vatican on Tuesday, saying in the second widely shared media interview in two weeks that each person “must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them” and calling efforts to convert people to Christianity “solemn nonsense.”
The Vatican’s head seemed intent on distancing himself from its power, saying church leaders “have often been narcissists” and “clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity.”
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The interview with atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari set off another round of debate about what the pope meant: Was he saying that people can make up their own minds, even if they disagree with church teachings? Or was this self-described “son of the church” just using casual language to describe classic church teaching about how people need to come to Catholic doctrine of their free will?