In one of those interviews, the pope told Scalfari, an ex-Catholic, that he had no interest in persuading him to return to the faith, and that atheists like him should just follow their own sense of right and wrong. The pope called much of what passes for Catholic evangelization “solemn nonsense” and praised the “autonomy” of conscience.

“The most surprising thing he told me was ‘God is not Catholic,’ ” Scalfari said after the interview.  ….