■ LifeSiteNews ■ Vittorio Messori, a famous Italian convert, journalist, and interviewer of two popes, has accused Pope Francis of “touching” the doctrine, of “laying his hands on that which the pope should instead be defending.” He said as much in a wider interview this Monday with the Italian media La Verità on the occasion of the republishing of the book he wrote after his conversion, Jesus Hypotheses. Last September, in a similar interview with La Fede Quotidiana, he said: “The Church is not of Bergoglio or of the bishops, but only of Christ.”

One interview was given before the Amazon Synod, underscoring the concerns that had already arisen about the synod’s agenda. The other appeared after the three weeks of harrowing news coming out of Rome, but it did not record any reactions of Messori to the more spectacular events surrounding the synod, such as the “Pachamama” worship in the Vatican gardens.

He did speak of Pope Francis’s failure to “defend the doctrine,” calling him “the first pope who often seems to give a reading of the Gospel that does not follow tradition.”

Vittorio Messori recalled, however, that the “Church will not fail.”

Messori is well known in Italy and over the world for his book-length interview with Pope John Paul II (Crossing the Treshold of Hope). With the future Pope Benedict XVI, he published another full-length interview, the Ratzinger Report.

Born to a rationalist, agnostic family, he experienced a stunning conversion when he read the New Testament as a 23-year-old young man, and he became a respected journalist who frequently writes about religious issues. He told La Fede Quotidiana that criticizing Pope Francis is not allowed in the “Church of mercy,” having personally faced pressure at Il Corriere della Sera to discontinue his collaboration after such an article.

Here is the part of Messori’s interview with La Verità on October 28 where he speaks of Pope Francis:

“Today with Bergoglio we have the impression that they want to get their hands on doctrine in some way. The pope is the guardian of the depositum fidei. After the Council, the three great popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI greatly modernized the spirit with which to read and live out the Gospel, but they never permitted themselves to touch the doctrine,” he said.

Asked about Pope Francis, he answered:

“The impression is that Bergoglio is laying his hands on that which the pope should instead be defending. The doctrine, as it developed in 2,000 years of study, was entrusted to the pope who must defend it, and not change it. Today we get the impression that this is precisely what is happening, and it is especially alarming to believers. The same Bergoglio recently acknowledged that some people are meditating a schism. He also states he is not afraid of that.”

Questioned about his “personal feeling” about this, he said:

“Certainly there will be no schism, but the concern is strong because we are facing the first pope who often seems to give a reading of the Gospel that does not follow tradition.”

On September 17, Vittorio Messori told La Fede Quotidiana:

“I see that many Catholics are concerned; some are even desperate. As a believer, however, I remember that the Church is not a business, a multinational or a state. In short, it cannot fail. Of course, there are reasons for alarm: I am thinking, for example, of the upcoming Synod on the Amazon and the errors related to it. I do not know what they want to achieve, probably the marriage of priests. However I am worried, but not desperate, because the Church is not of Bergoglio or of the bishops, but only of Christ and He governs it with wisdom. The forces of evil will not win.”

“Do you think there is a certain fundamental confusion?” asked journalist Bruno Volpe.

“Yes, it is present, and it saddens and confuses. But I think that in the end the Father will intervene. God surpasses our limited capacity to see things.”

To the question: “Do you think there is a kind of conformism, even in the media, about Pope Francis?,” Messori replied:

“The conformism to which you refer indeed exists. But it is palpable even within the Church. It is disconcerting that only two or three nonagenarian cardinals actually speak out and protest. There are so many bishops and even cardinals with whom I speak in private who lift their hands to their heads to show their dissent, but they are afraid, they say nothing, they are silent. For 2,000 years, harming the pope has been discouraged, but this tendency is accentuated today and one can clearly experience it firsthand. They say that this is the Church of mercy, but is it really? Those in command do not tolerate critical voices of any kind. I wrote a polite article in the Corriere in which I asked questions and offered reflections and I was covered with insults, especially by certain Catholic media. A committee was formed to ask the Corriere to put an end to my collaboration. This committee resembles — to use a fashionable expression — the “magic lily” [team of close supporters of former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi] of the pope. Where is the consistency with the statement that this is the Church of mercy, of open and loyal dialogue, of parresia? I am worried, as I said, but not desperate. Christ does not abandon his Church.”