Fr. Juan Carlos Scannone, who taught Pope Francis during his formation period, will be among the writers of La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian cultural journal of the Society of Jesus.
“Scannone will be a sort of ‘writer in residence’,” Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of La Civilta Cattolica, explained to CNA Feb. 21.
“He will keep all his international engagements … and at the same time he will help us in improving our capacity to write about Latin America and in giving us insights of the environment from which the Pope comes.”
Fr. Scannone has already contributed to La Civilta Cattolica with an article on the “philosophy of liberation,” and he will soon move to Rome. He will be among the “community of writers” for at least one year.
The hiring of Fr. Scannone comes in the midst of a progressive internationalization of La Civilta Cattolica -- Fr. Spadaro has already occasionally hired Jesuits from outside Italy to write about international issues.
He said that “when La Civilta Cattolica addresses international matters, I prefer to ask for a contribution from someone who already lives in the area we are writing about, rather than asking an Italian member of the College of Writers to write a ‘secondhand’ report.”
Fr. Spadaro said, “the magazine had a solid body of Italian writers resident in Italy. After the meeting the College of Writers had with Pope Francis last June 14, we started thinking about widening the frontiers of our magazine.”
In his address to the writers of La Civilta Cattolica, Pope Francis urged them to dialogue, discernment, and to engage the “frontier” between the Gospel and culture.
“Your proper place is at the frontier. This is the place of Jesuits,” the Pope told them. “Do not give in to the temptation of domesticating these frontiers: it is essential to go out to the frontiers but not to bring frontiers home to touch them up with a little varnish and tame them.”
In addition to Fr. Scannone, La Civilta Cattolica is broadening its horizon by enrolling among its writers Fr. Pierre de Chatenay, a Frenchman who has directed the magazine Etudes and is now teaching in the Philippines, Fr. Spadaro told Vatican Insider Feb. 19.
Fr. Scannone met Pope Francis when the future Roman Pontiff was a seminarian in Buenos Aires. Fr. Scannone taught him Greek and literature, and attended the first Mass of Fr. Jorge Bergoglio. The two lived together for several years while Fr. Bergoglio was Jesuit provincial in Argentina.
A pupil of Fr. Karl Rahner, Fr. Scannone is among the leading spokesmen of the “theology of the people,” an Argentine current of liberation theology.
Fr. Scannone wrote in “Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend” – edited and translated by CNA’s executive director Alejandro Bermudez – that according to Gustavo Gutierrez, Argentine liberation theology “never used Marxist categories or the Marxist analysis of society,” but rather, “without disregarding the social analysis, prefers a more historical-cultural analysis.”
The vision of liberation theology to which Fr. Scannone subscribes is “not based on class warfare,” he wrote, and he noted his criticism of the “indiscriminate use of Marxist analysis.”