Pope Francis considers a recent controversy with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, regarding priestly celibacy “closed,” a media report said on Thursday.
Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of the leftist La Repubblica newspaper, is an atheist who has struck up a surprising friendship with Francis.
His paper, however, published his interview.
Scalfari, using indirect speech, said the Pope told him that he had patched things up with Benedict, so “the matter with Ratzinger was, therefore, closed’’.
Benedict’s birth name is Joseph Ratzinger.
The ex-pope caused a stir this week when news appeared that he had co-authored a book with Cardinal Robert Sarah that argues against any relaxation of the celibacy rule for priests.
Since Francis is expected to make a decision on the issue within weeks, the book was largely seen as a disrespectful attempt to influence a decision that is only for Benedict’s successor to make.
On Tuesday, Benedict asked to have his name removed as co-author of the work.
However, the first edition of the book still came out in France on Wednesday with his name and picture on the cover.
Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, confirmed that Scalfari met the pope this week and called what was published a “free reconstruction of what the journalist remembers” from the meeting.
Scalfari, who is 95, does not use a tape recorder and accuracy of his quotes has been called into question in the past.
However, the Vatican has never formally disowned any of his papal interviews.