Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pope Francis' "rivers of words"

From Vatican Insider, how to miss the point about Pope Francis' torrent of words:
Even the upper echelons of the Vatican hierarchy have been aware for a while now that, since Francis rose to the papal throne, his river of words has been reaching people through all sorts of channels and without any intermediaries. So the Pope’s direct way of addressing his audience is ensuring that the media do not go into a spinning frenzy regarding the figure and actions of the Bishop of Rome.
It is simply not true that Pope Francis' speeches and homilies are "reaching people through all sorts of channels without any intermediaries." I'd argue that it's usually through intermediaries that Catholics are encountering the Pope's words. And not faithful Catholic intermediaries, either, but through their daily newspapers, if they still read any, or more likely through some popular online aggregator like Google News or the Huffington Post, which generally dismiss the mission or teachings of the Church, and have a tacit alliance with those within the Church who strive to turn it into a social services agency.

The last man who clearly explained the liberating reach of Francis’ direct style of preaching was the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State Peter Brian Wells. ... Wells said that online access to the Pope’s homilies and speeches has freed individuals, families and communities from a reliance on media coverage that may be manipulative or biased.
This is utterly unrealistic. Perhaps Mr. Wells and his co-workers can spend the time necessary to find and then carefully read the Pope's extensive comments, homilies, and speeches, but I'd bet the farm that fewer than one in a thousand American Catholics do that. They get their Church news from the same sources they get their secular news, with the dangers already mentioned.

The problem with Francis' torrent of statements is that it is a torrent. Fewer statements that were more carefully worded, more cautiously guarded from misinterpretation, and unembellished with asides, would serve the faithful much better.