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Meet the press.


ROME -- At his first meeting with the media, Pope Francis continued to impress, charming the five-thousand-plus journalists in attendance with gestures of humility, his sense of humor, and suggestive comments about the direction he wants to lead the church.

He was introduced by Archbishop Claudio Celli, who heads the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Celli spoke in Italian and English, praising the press for the "positive role" it played "once again" in reporting the church to the world. He also highlighted the "freedom and autonomy of those who work in the media," thanking them for "their human and intellectual passion." The "diversity of media professionals," he continued, "adds to our understanding of the richness of reality." Francis listened intently from his chair, about twenty feet from Celli. And when the archbishop finished speaking, Francis stood and walked over to Celli to thank him for the remarks. (Popes don't really do that.)

Francis spoke in Italian and from a text, though he ad libbed throughout the address -- noting at the outset that "you have been busy." Of course the press ate it up. But he also reflected on the difficulty of covering an event like the election of a pope. "The nature of the church is spiritual, not political.... Christ is the center, not the successor of Peter."

Going off script, he explained how "the bishop of Rome came to call himself Francis." As it became clear that he was about to be elected pope, his friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes comforted him:

"He hugged me. He kissed me. He said don't forget about the poor," Francis said. "And that word went in here," he said, pointing at his head. "And that's how in my heart came the name Francis of Assisi...for me is a man of poverty, a man of peace, a man who loved and protected creation. Right now our relations with Creation are not going very well." Francis of Assisi "gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church," the pope explained. "How I would love a church that is poor and for the poor."

Some cardinals had joked that he should have taken other names.

Ah, you should have called yourself Adrian, no, because Adrian VI was a reformer and we need reform! And another said to me, No, no you should have called yourself Clement. But why Clement? Clement XV -- so you would have taken revenge on Clement XIV, who suppressed the Society of Jesus!

But Francis also had a serious message for the world's media. He spoke of "the trinity of communication: truth, goodness and beauty." "We are not called to communicate ourselves. The church exists to communicate truth, goodness and beauty."

He concluded in rather stunning fashion. Instead of offering his apostolic blessing aloud, he gave it in silence, acknowledging (in Spanish) that "not everyone present is a member of the Catholic faith, and others do not believe." He continued, "I respect the conscience of all of you, knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you."

As he walked off stage, uproarious applause filled the room.



Commenting Guidelines

Where was the press conference held in the picture above? The sculpture in the background is really striking.

Pope Francis: Their (meaning lay people) clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice.As the days go by, more to appreciate. I am truly excited; not about doctrinal issues (those will change someday anyway), but the authenticity/humility of the person and his welcoming tone. What a breath of fresh air. I savor the gratitude and joy for his election.Hoping for the best for abuse survivorsAnd this morning, more outstanding news about Pope Francis. Are not our hearts burning?

according to Wikipedia:The Paul VI Audience Hall is a building in Italy, mostly in Rome and partially in Vatican City, but the Italian part of the building is an extraterritorial area of the Holy See used by the Pope as an alternative to Saint Peter's Square for conducting his Wednesday morning General Audience.The building, with a seating capacity of 6,300, was designed in reinforced concrete by the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi and completed in 1971.One of the more arresting features of the hall is the twenty-meter-wide brass and bronze sculpture La Resurrezione ("The Resurrection") by Pericle Fazzini.

The Aparacida conference document of the Latin American bishops, ardently quoted by Maradiaga and Bergoglio, is the blueprint for their concern for the poor. It needs to be analyzed and contrasted with the first Medellin conference. I suspect that in their zeal to keep liberation tehology at bay the bishops may have reduced the preferential option for the poor to mere patronizing rhetoric.

John Page: your points are almost making me hopeful, but I don't want to risk being disappointed. So you're positive, I'm negative: the world is upside down!

"As he walked off stage, uproarious applause filled the room."Please tell me he did a mic drop before walking off.

Carolyn Disco wrote "Pope Francis: Their (meaning lay people) clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice.Carolyn, do you have a link to that? I'm curious as to what he has in mind by "clericalization of the layity" my guess would be that its not the usual complaint you find on traditional blogs that installed lay readers, eucharistic ministers, etc are obscuring the unique role of ordained clergy - and that female altar servers inhibit the male role modeling that leads boys to the seminary.That doesn't sound like the Francis I've seen so far

John Page:I found it here: by Sander Magister.I agree about its interpretation; not the "traditionalist" blog version. I entered the sentence minus my parens and it came up in many contexts; 38 links.

From 2007:"In short, it is the Holy Spirit who performs the mission. BERGOGLIO: The early theologians said: the soul is a kind of sailing boat, the Holy Spirit is the wind that blows in the sail, to send it on its way, the impulses and the force of the wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Without His drive, without His grace, we dont go ahead. The Holy Spirit lets us enter the mystery of God and saves us from the danger of a gnostic Church and from the danger of a self-referential Church, leading us to the mission. That means also overthrowing all your functionalist solutions, your consolidated plans and pastoral systems BERGOGLIO: I didnt say that pastoral systems are useless. On the contrary. In itself everything that leads by the paths of God is good. I have told my priests: Do everything you should, you know your duties as ministers, take your responsibilities and then leave the door open. Our sociologists of religion tell us that the influence of a parish has a radius of six hundred meters. In Buenos Aires there are about two thousand meters between one parish and the next. So I then told the priests: If you can, rent a garage and, if you find some willing layman, let him go there! Let him be with those people a bit, do a little catechesis and even give communion if they ask him. A parish priest said to me: But Father, if we do this the people then wont come to church. But why? I asked him: Do they come to mass now? No, he answered. And so! Coming out of oneself is also coming out from the fenced garden of ones own convictions, considered irremovable, if they risk becoming an obstacle, if they close the horizon that is also of God. This is valid also for lay people BERGOGLIO: Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice. Im thinking of those Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had also lived their apostolic mission in virtue of baptism alone. One must not be afraid of depending only on His tenderness "For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church? BERGOGLIO: It is what De Lubac calls spiritual worldliness. It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. It is worse, says De Lubac, more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes. Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the center. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others.

Thanks, Carolyn. Here's Wikipedia's description of one group f Japanese Chrstians:" In 1865, some of the Japanese who lived in Urakami village near Nagasaki visited the new ura Church which had been built by the Paris Foreign Missions Society (Missions trangres de Paris) barely a month before. A female member of the group spoke to a French priest, Bernard Thadee Petitjean, and confessed that their families had kept the Kirishitan faith. Those Kirishitan wanted to see the statue of St. Mary with their own eyes, and to confirm that the priest was single and truly came from the pope in Rome. After this interview, many Kirishitan thronged toward Petitjean. He investigated their underground organizations and discovered that they had kept the rite of baptism and the liturgical years without European priests for nearly 250 years. Petitjeans report surprised the Christian world; Pope Pius IX called it a miracle."I brlieve I've read that in Latinn America, a priest may visit a remote village only two or three times a year - but the Catholic faith continues on because local pople are recognized as "baptizers" to bapitze babies as soon as they are born. francis may also have had that in mind in saying that "baptism alone oculd suffice"

By "clericalization" I think Francis meant giving the clergy more authority than it deserves and giving the laity less. The example of the stranded Japanese shows what the laity can do without the clergy if necessary. (I think there are many immature adults who want to be told what to do by authority figures, and their extreme need for security often leads them to accept very rigid authorities. Hence the many diffferent sorts of fundamentalism, Catholic and otherwise.)

From the Politi article quoted above by Fr. Komonchak:"For this remodeling of the papacy in the direction of collegiality and thus of a government of the Catholic Church effected by the pontiff in close collaboration with the episcopates, the American wind that blew over the Conclave played a role. If German and French theologians put their mark on the Second Vatican Council, the role of the American cardinals was central in making room in 2013 for a more modern conclave and pre-conclave. It was because of their energy and communication-skillsalthough not exclusivelythat the preliminary meetings of the cardinals were marked by great concreteness in the analysis of situations and of the evils of todays Church. Its because of them that in the conclave tactical games were set aside and the victorious candidate was quickly identified. They became a point of reference for the many episcopates that are seeking to participate in the strategic decisions of the papacy. "Has there been any reporting on how it is that the Americans were able to get themselves organized, and how they were able to make a difference? I'd like to read more about this "American wind".

" (The popes Italian is good, but not pitch perfect. It gets corrected in the texts found on the Vatican site.)"John Page - I have a couple of friends from Buenos Aires who have traveled enough to tell me that the language spoken there is so close to Italian that native Italians understand it pretty easily, but that it's just enough "off" to make Italians ask: where are you from? I wonder if that is part of what is happening when the Holy Father speaks in Italian.