The Vatican moved quickly to dispel rumours that the pope had abolished the concept of sin, as had originally been reported.
In a statement from the pope’s press team, there was a strong denial that Pope Francis had told a reporter that sin no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were eternal.
The claims arose when left-leaning, atheist Eugenio Scalfari wrote a piece for his La Repubblica newspaper, in which he claimed that the pope had done away with the concept, through his words and gestures during a private interview.
According to US website Huffington Post, Mr Scalfari is reported to have said that he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope, but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.
On the Vatican Radio in January, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said, ‘Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners’.
This all came after the pope called for peace in the New Year, claiming that ‘the heart of humanity’ has gone astray and people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.