Controversy continues regarding Pope's alleged phone call on divorce
Vatican laments conflicting details that caused confusion
Pope Francis celebrates the Eucharist during a mass at the Sant' Ignazio di Loyola church yesterday in Rome. (AFP Photo/Giuseppe Cacace)
Media frenzy over an alleged phone call Pope Francis made to a divorced and remarried woman allowing her to receive Communion has seen a rise in conflicting details – and has been lamented by the Vatican as causing “confusion.”
Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said yesterday that the Holy See will not officially comment on the alleged phone call Pope Francis made to an Argentinean woman this week, as the pontiff's “personal pastoral” relationships “do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities”.
“That which has been communicated in relation to this matter,” he stressed in an April 24 statement, “and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”
The story of a woman in Argentina that allegedly received a phone call from Pope Francis on Easter Monday, giving her “permission” to receive Communion since she is married with a divorced man, has become more complex and doubtful in some of its details.
The situation involves Jaquelina Lisbona, 47, and Julio Sabetta, 50, of San Lorenzo – a small city 185 miles North West from Buenos Aires.
Sabetta was married into the Catholic church in 1985, but got legally divorced in 1992. In 1994, he was re-introduced to Jaquelina – they had been boyfriend and girlfriend in their teens – and the two started to live together in a civil union. Since then, they had two children, Candela and Josefina, aged 17 and 14, respectively.
Six years ago, during Candela's preparation for her confirmation – both daughters have been baptized, received first Holy Communion and have been confirmed – the local pastor at that time, who has been erroneously described as having left the priesthood by some news sources, told Jaquelina that she could not receive Communion because of her marital status.
Last September, encouraged by a friend, she decided to write Pope Francis about her situation and her desire to receive Communion.
The story of the Pope's “permission” to Jaquelina to receive Communion was first posted on Monday evening by Sabetta on his Facebook Page when he wrote: “Today one of the most beautiful things happened to me since the birth of my two daughters, I got a call in my home from none other than Pope Francis, it was a big emotion, we cannot figure it out yet, this call was originated by my wife who sent him a letter and he took his time to call her and talk to her and I can assure you that when he talks, he gives you total peace. Thanks God for this blessing!”
The story was originally picked up by local radio station “La Red,” and local newspaper “La Capital.” It was then mentioned by the national Argentinean News Agency TELAM and by Wednesday the news story spread globally, including the Drudge Report.
What the Pope exactly told Jaquelina is a matter of controversy. Speaking to La Red, Jaquelina said that after talking for about ten minutes with the Pope, he allegedly told her that there are some priests that are “more Papist than the Pope” and that she should “go to confession and start taking Communion at a different parish.”
In a second interview, overwhelmed by the international attention and the phone calls from around the world, she confirmed that she received “permission” to receive Communion by the Pope, but she complained: “this was supposed to be discrete, now I don't think I will be able to go anywhere now.”
Since Wednesday, Jaquelina has not been available for comments.
Source: Catholic News Agency
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