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Reconstruction and Clarification (Update)

In my reflection on Pope Francis' interview with Father Spadaro, I remarked that it be best interpreted under the genre of "conversation," rather than "interview." The same was even more true of the "interview" with Signore Scalfari. But, even at its first appearance, I wondered how it had been recorded by Scalfari – did he bring an aide? (clearly not); did he use a recorder? (none was mentioned); is he adept at short hand? (even while discoursing on the "fabric of being").

Now it appears that it was not recorded at all, but reconstructed after the fact by the octagenarian (though very astute) editor.

John Page, in a comment below, called our attention to the new information. Since his comment is on an old post, I provide the link here.

I confess to finding the modus procedendi rather strange. Stranger still is that the "interview" with Scalfari is presented on the Vatican website under the category of "speeches!"

Update:

Actually less an "update" than a warm "recommendation." John Allen linked to an interview between Father Thomas Rosica and Monsignor Dario Viganò, the director of Vatican Television. The interview recounts the "transformation" that Viganò discerned in Francis after his moment of prayer before he went on to the Loggia.

But the whole interview is fascinating and Viganò speaks some of the purest Italian I'v heard in a long time (though Rosica is no slouch!). There are English subtitles.

Viganò speaks of the crucial role of images in filming Benedict's departure from the Vatican and Francis' appearance on the Loggia. At the very end he makes, in response to a question, an interesting comparison between the two Popes.

Here are twenty-seven very worthwhile minutes of breaking good.

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Comments

Commenting Guidelines

It's not really how you do an interview--especially when it's with the pope! But, while it appears Scalfari flubbed some details about Francis's post-election doubts, Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi, SJ, said that the pope "does not dispute" what appears in the interview. Indeed, Francis approved the text before it was published.

In other words, no one should dismiss the interview because Scalfari failed to record it as it occurred.

Grant,

What do you mean "that's not how you do an interview?" You don't record it? Isn't that precisely what Father Spadaro did?

You also ignored in a prior post the completely erroneous headline on La Repubblica's presentation of the "interview:" "Cosi cambierò la chiesa!"

One can be forgiven for indulging a "hermeneutic of suspicion" regarding Scalfari's agenda.

He should write written responses to presubmitted questions before the interview takes place, a la Nabokov.

I thought it was obvious that I was talking about Scalfari's method.

So what if Scalfari has an agenda? You don't? I don't? The pope is no fool.

I ignore lots of things, and can't respond to every comment on the blog.

"Cosi cambierò la chiesa" ("How I will change the church") was the headline, not a quote from the interview. It was presented as a summary of the pope's agenda as set out in the subsequent article, and used the very unfortunate Italian practice of using quotation marks. But those familiar with Italian journalism would know that was the case and would take it into account or explain that to readers.

Those familiar with the often deplorable practices of Italian journalism would also not be too shocked at Scalfari not using a recorder or taking notes and then presenting it as a Q&A in direct quotations. Still, this was an egregious, absurd way to conduct such an interview, even for La Repubblica. In the U.S., his career would have ended in ignominy. (Or he would become the next Bob Woodward.) In Italy he is the toast of the tabloids.

The other question of course is why no one on the pope's side recorded it!

Still, the pope did not dispute the contents of the interview, and the obvious problem with the post-election sequence of events was the focus of the Vatican's clarifications, not the other much more substantial comments. The pope's remarks to Scalfari were consistent with everything else he has said elsewhere.

So it is what it is. The reaction to all this by the church's Old Guard is fascinating: they are always trying to highlight ostensible problems in translation, relialibility, or downplay remarks as "off-the-cuff" and therefore almost inconsequential.

Bob, it seems to me that's where the real "hermeneutic of suspicion" seem to be directed these days -- toward the pope from the right.

I'd also note that I don't think Francis shares your suspicion about Scalfari (an avowed atheist). He seems eager to engage him, and trust in his good will. And it seemed to be returned in kind -- Scalfari reproduced (reconstructed) Francis' own arguments against his unbelief, and Scalfari ended with a very positive assessment of Francis.

It will be interesting to see if they meet again, as the pope indicated he wanted to do. This time with tape recorders I hope!

Tape recorders can destroy the dynamics and make the conversatio more stilted; people may be more self-conscious. As long as pope Francis reviewed it and approved it before publication, I don't think that it is problematic for the journalist to reconstruct the conversation from memory. 

What concerns me more than Scalfari’s method, questionable in itself, is his lack of disclosure.   Based on all my years in journalism, he was duty-bound to make it crystal clear, front and center, that this was his “reconstruction.”   The fact that he did not more than calls into question the integrity of the “interview,” it calls into question the integrity of the author.   That’s unfortunate.

"All my years in journalism." You said this once before, and when you were asked what kind of journalism, and where you practice it, you demurred, saying something like, "Oh, I didn't mean that I actually work in journalism." What gives?

Truman Capote claimed that he wrote all of the quotes in In Cold Blood from memory. Studs Terkel told all and sundry that his fumble-fingered efforts to set up his tape recorder -- usually requiring help from the interviewee -- loosened up both interviewer and the interviewee. I never used a tape recorder except at times when we planned to run the interview verbatim. Others I know use it whenever they can. Everyone has had the experience of getting the headline news from the interviewee after the interviewer closed his notebook.

Before we slam Italian journalistic practices, we should reflect on FoxNews and the seeping of its "techniques" into other U.S. media.

Tom Blackburn wrote, "Everyone has had the experience of getting the headline news from the interviewee after the interviewer closed his notebook."

Couldn't agree with you more.

David,

I am not familiar with the practice of "phantom quotes" in Italian journalism. It must have been sufficiently problematic even for them, for the quotation marks appeared and disappeared depending on which day one accessed the website.

As for the Pope's eagerness to engage Scalfari, I have no difficulty with that. Indeed, I praised his "astuteness" in challenging Scalfari on a number of points. I am concerned, however, about a tendency towards off the cuff remarks which can be more "ingenuo" than "furbo."

"The church's Old Guard" aside, perhaps we can agree that what seems to be an emerging genre should not be posted on the Vatican website as "speeches;" perhaps they should come up with a new category: "Papal Conversations."

 

So, I guess the “I” in “How I will change the church” referred to Scalfari, not Francis?   How could we have been so obtuse as not to know of this “very unfortunate Italian practice?”   Note to self: Read with askance anything written by an Italian not named Imbelli or Alighieri.

 

I ignore lots of things, and can't respond to every comment on the blog.

Oh, Grant, you’re much too self-effacing.   Or is it just my comments that always seem to arouse your interest so?  As far as your question to me, I think if you read my comments again, very carefully, you’ll have your answer.   If not, let me know, and I will remove all trace of subtlety.

Abe, I would very much reject the idea of having the pope respond to presubmitted and vetted questions. B16 started doing that for his in-flight "press conferences," which were very deceptive in their practices. (Pretending to call on journalists who were in fact pre-selected and answering questions that reporter hadn't even submitted. Just weird.) Francis, like JP2 in the early days, seems to want real interaction which can produce genuine insights and conversation. The conservative allergy to this form of papal pronouncement I think stems from the high (nose-bleed) view of the papacy, where every utterance could be construed as infallible, and every utterance was therefore carefully vetted to sound like the catechism.

Claire: Using a tape recorder for a conversation like this is not unusual at all, and in fact is to be expected. When you are doing a reported Q&A with a world leader, you record it. Or at least you take notes. This isn't a matter of interviewing someone with no experience of media. The pope does not seem like one to be discomfited by the presence of a microphone. And they are much more discreet than the old days. Just turn on your smartphone!

BTW, John Allen has a similar take:

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/popes-mystical-moment-something-did...

As does John Thavis.

 

John Allen:

None of this, of course, is to excuse La Repubblica’s sloppiness in not making clear to readers that what was being presented as the literal words of the pope was actually a reconstruction, not a transcript.

Barring further clarification from the Vatican, it’s now impossible to cite any particular lines or formulae from that interview and attribute them directly to the pope, since we don’t know quite where Scalfari ends and Francis begins.

It would also be a mistake, however, to simply disregard the interview, including the critical matter of what happened to Francis immediately after his election.

Agreed. And who can possibly be against "genuine insights and conversation?" Father Lombardi's bon mot that this is not "Denzinger," merely belabors the obvious. But not to consider it a "speech" is hardly a question of "nose-bleed," but of truth in packaging ... and of interpreting.

The recent uproar over the so-called “mystical” experience of Pope Francis brought back to my mind the time when it was announced “Habemus papam” and Pope Francis first appeared on the balcony after he was elected. I remember being somewhat confused by his demeanor. After giving several very unobtrusive blessings to the crowd, he just stood there looking out at them for close to a minute. I wondered if he was convinced that he was up to the job. (I also thought: This is not going to be a very interesting papacy!!!) Then his face changed as he said to the crowd: “Buonasera.” It was awesome.

A few minutes ago I went to the YouTube video of the event and saw a close-up of his face and, as he looked out at the crowd, I detected a calm, peaceful smile on his face that I had not noticed last March. Could this have been part of his mystical acceptance time?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J2uBWXoX68 (1:30)

After viewing this event again I have another opinion of his minute of silence before speaking to the crowd. Could it be that he was showing his respect for them?

Then I thought, “Hmm, I wonder what happened when Benedict was announced?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C41EYAxieK8 (7:22)

What a contrast!

Benedict came out on the balcony arms outstretched, big smile on his face, and then hands clasped and raised over his head in some sort of gesture that I cannot understand, most probably one that has meaning for the Italians. (Hopefully, not a victory gesture.) He continued those gestures for close to two minutes before speaking.

 

 

 

A great deal of human communication is only approximate, and we expect it to be that way..  If you ask me, "What time is dinner?" and I say, "6:15" you don't expect that answer to be exact.  But making up things out of whole cloth is another matter.  If you ask, "What's for dinner?" and I reply, "Soup, salad, steak, and chocolae mousse" knowing very well there is no dessert, then that is a another matter.

Lack of total accuracy is often good enough for normal conversation, but when the point of a sentence is not entirely consistent with the facts, or, worse, when the speaker invents something and offers it as fact, that't another matter.  I must say that at times Pope Francis himself in an effort to make a point  clearly sometimes seems to overstates the point.  He ends up just being inconsistent or otherwise confusing. 

If I understand this post correctly Eugenio Scalfari, a well-educated, highly experienced fellow who defines himself as an atheist in matters of formal religion and Pope Francis, sometimes referred to as the Vicar of Christ, had a conversation or interview or chat or something. And when it was done there seemed to be some ambiguity in the minds by those who were not in attendance concerning what they really meant or said or thought or something. Who could have seen that coming?

Two people who have both struggled mightily in their own ways to be responsible and truthful to themselves and the rest of us got together and talked.  And their profoundly different views of the foundations of reality did not prevent them from chatting politely and usefully.  They moved to the high ground together.  Could there possibly be a pretty clear, useful lesson there rather than a source of confusion?

All onterviews should be like those of suspects in cop tv shows .... video-taped  :)

Crystal,

I think you're onto something about them "onterviews!" :-)

What a shame. Now all those who are dedicated to parsing the Pope's words will be unable to do so. But all is not lost. They can simply deny that any of it is valid except for what they like, and attribute whatever they don't like to the villianous atheist interviewer! 

As far as I am concerned, if Pope Francis does not contest this report of the interview, if he read it and approved it before it was published, that means it is a fair account of what was said. 

Sure, one can say he didn't read it over carefully enough to spot a discrepency about what room he was in when he had that moment of "light" after the shock of being elected. But when someone reviews a transcript of a recording it's possible to miss things too. It's not fatal, or even very important what room he was in.

If he saw something that raised a red flag, that was a misinterpretation of what he really thinks, don't you think he would say so?

One could say he didn't speak carefully enough. But you could say that even if you had a recording. Those who do not like what the Pope says are already very busy telling the world that he really meant to say something else. They are not detained by his actual words. We have quite a bit on videotape, and that hasn't stopped people from spinning it away from what was said.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but recordings can be doctored, notes can be selective. Who is going to prove that he actually said those things in a one-to-one interview, with or without a recording? The only assurance you have is his own word, the Pope's word. That ought to be enough.

Sorry, but I think there are people (like the source that Grant linked to above) who are grasping at this opportunity to negate a very favorable public event, because it does not correspond to their own views of what the Pope should have said. 

I feel we are getting the view of the Scribes in the Gospels who are scandalized by the freedom of Jesus in dealing directly with sinners and who are zealous over jots and tittles but have little care for the souls of those who are not reached by the prescriptions of the Law. 

Get a recording! Prove that he said those things! 

Oh, if only there was a videotape of the scene of the woman caught in adultery... we'd have found out that Jesus couldn't possibly have let her off like that! 

Bob, I am grateful that you have not descended to the level of dismissing the interview. 

And I like your suggestion that there might be a category of "Conversations."

Is "speeches" the same thing as "allocutions"? I believe the category of "allocution" is used as a grab bag for anything that doesn't fall into one of the other formal categories.

One more item, which I did not mention in my comment above. Usually, the details of time and place are objective anchors in facts that can be checked, and this helps us to be confident about the report. But recall that the item of factual discrepency arose when the Pope was describing a spiritual experience at a moment of extremely high emotional and spiritual intensity. He may be the one who didn't remember the details accurately.

Nevertheless, oral history, as we all know from Biblical studies, can succeed in passing on the most important content while not getting all "the facts" straight. 

Rita,

There is no category of "allocution" on the Vatican website. But if you take as definition for the word, "a formal and authoritative speech," then it is subsumed under "Speeches" or, in the Italian, "Discorsi." And that's where the "interviews" have been placed.

Therein lies the problem. It is a new genre, yet, because it presents (whether accurately or not) the words of the Pope (and let's not pretend that he is, from the point of view of influence and newsworthiness,only  the "Bishop of Rome," however theologically correct that may be), it raises issues of authority and interpretation that are problematic.

I don't think it serves mutual understanding to launch into a rhetorical riff on "scribes." There are matters of legitimate concern that people can raise about the viability of the procedure -- not because the room was 10 meters or 100 meters from the Loggia, nor because he is meeting and conversing with Scalfari (a wonderful pastoral gesture), but because the unscripted conversations are transcribed and trumpeted to a world-wide audience of listeners who (whether on the "left" or on the "right") read the script precisely as "allocutions."

That such concerns are not totally misplaced, here from the New York Times:

"Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder."

 

 

Rita, thank you for mentioning this - "Nevertheless, oral history, as we all know from Biblical studies, can succeed in passing on the most important content while not getting all "the facts" straight."

How interesting that so many are so very upset about the fact that the journalist reported from memory. He apparently got the meaning right, since the pope approved publication. I am wondering why this is - what so upsets those who are upset about this?

And how many of those who are upset about a small detail in an interview that was written by one of those who took part in the conversation (is that better than "interview"?) shortly after it took place are similarly upset about the possible inaccuracies in the gospels and letters of the New Testament. They report words attributed to Jesus as quotes and provide accounts of his actions and movements and companions. These "reports" were written decades after Jesus' death, by writers of whom at least one and perhaps more were not present at any of the events they reported on. At least one and maybe more of the evangelists did not personally know Jesus. Nor of course did Paul.  I suspect that none of those who wrote the NT worked from transcripts or archived TV footage either.

 

I forgot to add that I have read that most modern biblical scholars do not believe that any of the evangelists could have known Jesus personally and that none of the stories in the gospels are eyewitness accounts.  I am not a biblical scholar, so I cannot judge the accuracy of this claim, but it seems reasonable to me. 

Bob, I still don't understand the concern over these papal remarks. The pope certainly seems to know what he is doing, he has delivered the remarks -- again and again, in his daily morning homilies, inflight press conferences, interviews like this one and the one with Civilta' Cattolica. These are the pope's words, his feelings, his beliefs. Why can't we take them at face value? Remarks from John Paul II and Benedict (who gave book-length interviews) were trumpeted and cited and no one seemed to have concerns like these.

I seriously doubt the pope is keeping himself up at night worrying about how to best categorize his interviews on the Vatican website--which is barely navigable. 

Just wanted to pick up on, and develop, a point that’s been made here.

Rita Ferrone said, “As far as I am concerned, if Pope Francis does not contest this report of the interview, if he read it and approved it before it was published, that means it is a fair account of what was said.”

David Gibson wrote, “I still don't understand the concern over these papal remarks. The pope certainly seems to know what he is doing, he has delivered the remarks … again and again…”

And now a friend sends me this in an email:  “L'Osservatore Romano re-printed the entire ‘interview’ or conversation between Scalfari and Francis. Now why would they do that if they didn't think it represented the pope's true thinking?” 

Here’s the link:

http://www.osservatoreromano.va/portal/dt?JSPTabContainer.setSelected=JSPTabContainer%2FDetail&last=false=&path=/news/interviste/2013/225q13-Intervista-di-Scalfari--a-papa-Francesco.html&title=%20%20%20La%20luce%20che%20abbiamo%20nell'anima%20%20%20&locale=it

:

Msgr Dario Vigano indulges in the most saccharine mystificatory papolatry, feeding the faithful unnourishing bonbons.

Helen, I looked at much of the two links you posted -- the initial enthusiasm when Ratzinger's name was announced was much greater than that which greeted the unknown Bergoglio and the reason Ratzinger did not speak for so long was that the crowds were roaring (with help form the Communio e liberazione claque). The display of John Paul II's coat of arms made his entrance all the more spectacular, and of course he is a more handsome man than Bergoglio. He smiled more confidently then than at any subsequent moment in his 8 year pontificate.

That Cardinal Bergoglio immediately accepted his election to the papacy is from overwhelming evidence beyond dispute. That Dottor Eugenio Scalfari says otherwise seems to me more than just a trifling nuance. What else then did he possibly "mis-remember"? But I like Father Lombardi's approach, "This after all is'nt Denzinger-Schonmetzer."

But maybe Ludwig von Pastor! (That smile sign thing.)

This piece by Francis X. Rocca expresses some of the concerns I've tried to raise regarding "genre" and "interpretation:"

"This is a genre to which we were not accustomed," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Oct. 2, the day after Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari published his account of a conversation with the pope. "Let's take it for what it is, seeking to interpret it correctly."

Catholics have traditionally heard or read a pope's words in certain authoritative forms: magisterial documents, such as encyclicals or apostolic exhortations, which carry the full weight of the papacy's teaching authority; canonical decrees with the force of church law; and homilies delivered at major papal liturgies.

In all such cases, Vatican officials ordinarily review the texts prior to delivery and provide official translations in major languages to reduce the possibility of ambiguity or confusion.

Pope Francis' addition to the magisterial, canonical and pastoral forms of papal communication, Father Lombardi said, is a genre that might be termed "conversational," comprising not only the pope's interviews with journalists but also his off-the-cuff homilies at daily morning Masses, of which the Vatican publishes only summaries with verbatim excerpts.

When the pope speaks spontaneously, his words should carry correspondingly less weight than in more traditional forms and contexts, Father Lombardi said. Yet lately the impact of the pope's statements has been inversely proportional to their official status. 

Rocca opines:

Pope Francis appears to recognize that distinctions between the magisterial and conversational are lost on most listeners and readers, who are unversed in theology and encounter his words in the fragmentary form of news reports.

Speriamo bene!

 

 

Why wouldn't we think so already? Why do we have to hope so? The man has already proved himself a skilled communicator. How long will the brow-furrowers wonder whether this pope really knows what he's doing? How long will it be before he has "grown into" his office? He is not Benedict. While he sudied theology in Germany, Francis's way of thinking doesn't seem terribly Teutonic. When he has something he wants to communicate to his people, to the world, he doesn't feel the need to pass it through the relevent dicasteries.

Grant,

your confidence in the Petrine charism is touching. As you will have perceived from my posts, I have applauded Francis' pastoral sensitivites and his homiletic challenges.

I have expressed in this post and this thread concerns regarding the carefulness of some of his pronouncements that can easily be misused, instancing, in that regard, the Times story on Loyola Marymount. You may dismiss these as "brow-furrowing" (nice inner assonance there). On the other hand it is possible that you fail to see aspects of the still-unfolding pontificate that others are trying to call attention to, not out of fault-finding, but out of care for the office.

After all, Francis has characterized himself as "clever," "naive," and "undisciplined." To suggest that these traits may still appear is not put down, but service. Isn't that what discernment entails? and isn't that what, in good Ignatian fashion, he has asked of others: to tell him when he may be wrong. Certainly Benedict received his share of such discernment - not least in these precincts.

To suggest that one is seeking "Teutonic" thinking is the sort of glib dismissal that advances no discussion.

As for "growing into his office," indeed, six months are insufficient. How long did it take to grow into the office of Provincial where, he confesses, mistakes were made?

Well..."out of care for the office." Never has so much been conveyed in so few words. You may be the master communicator here, Bob!

The fearfulness that Francis has generated in the church establishment is fascinating, but again, to be comparative, where was this hand-wringing and brow-furrowing when it came to Benedict, e.g.?

He never "grew into the office," but presided over a disastrous series of missteps, and then resigned. Yet the narrative line from the Old Guard is that he was undone by the media and others. Benedict's fan club defends Regensberg, which could be construed as a new form of papal communication, I suppose. A lecture from his old university post. And he wrote three books on the historical Jesus! What is that all about? He noted that they weren't magisterial pronouncements, but still -- he was the pope. And now, dressed as pope and bearing the title, he writes an open letter to an Italian atheist engaging him in verbal combat (and dialogue).

That is an entirely new form of papl or semi-papal communication. What weight to give it all? My answer is that I think we can figure it out pretty easily without the edifice of the church collpasing like a house of cards, as another well-known pope put it.

No?

Joseph S. O'Leary

Yes, indeed, the cheering of the crowd was much more exuberant for Benedict than for Francis. Name recognition does have its benefits.

I hope that I am not distracting from the discussion of the facts about the “mystical experience” of Francis but I am astounded when I view the tape of Benedict’s introduction as pope to the people of Rome and the world.  It is so out of character. He reminds me of a Kentucky Derby winner coming out of the starting gate. (Hope I am not offending Benedict lovers.)

By contrast the demeanor of Francis in the first few minutes before he spoke on the balcony was so profound and deeply personal.  The facts about when or where he accepted his election may be a problem but I see his actions on the balcony as the time when it became a reality for him.

I gather that the emerging rule among the anti-brow-furrowers is that only journalists can judge journalism and if journalists declare "nihil obstat" in regard to Scalfari's formulations the rest of us should defer to their obviously superior professional judgment.

Patrick Molloy, nobody has said anything remotely like what you are claiming is the "emerging rule."

 

BTW, Sandro Magister, who has emerged as the paladin of the nervous Old Guard, reproduces -- with affirmation -- an essay by Pietro deMarco that has been circulating in recent days, a pointed critique of Francis' new form of "magisterium" by interview:

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350619?eng=y

Me, I'm not so bothered by it, as you can tell from my comments above.

But I would also note that this is not just about the pope's remarks -- it is about his actions, his deeds. They reflect and complement each other. Just a day or two after releasing his "first" encyclical, written with Ratzinger, Francis traveled to the island of Lampedusa for that moving mass in memory of the refugees who are still being lost at sea. That was, poetically but rightly, called his true "first encyclical." And it was not about the words as much as the image of a pope going without fanfare to a remote island to celebrate Mass using the humblest vessels.

That was, poetically but rightly, called his true "first encyclical."

Yes!

Me, I like most of the images too and this was one of the points made by Viganò in the video I recommended.

It's the carelessness, the lack of nuance, of some of the words used which concerns me, as I suggested in my America reflection, even before the conversation with Scalfari appeared.

De Marco's points (and Magister's) are worth engaging; and discernment of their validity is scarcely determined by affixing labels. It only puts commenters here in the company of those they purport to deprecate.

 

I would also recommend this CNA story on the history of papal interviews. Some very helpful background:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/francis-continues-papal-tradition...

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2013 / 06:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While it has drawn much attention, the interview Pope Francis gave to the prominent Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari is not the first of its kind in the history of the Church, but part of a tradition stretching back to “Good Pope John.”

The first interview ever given by a Pope to a “secular” newspaper was that John XXIII gave to the prominent Italian journalist Indro Montanelli in 1959, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on March 29 of that year.

It was Pope John XXIII himself who made the first move, asking his personal secretary Loris Capovilla to inform Corriere della Sera chief editor Mario Missiroli that he wanted to give an interview to a journalist “outside of the Catholic circle.”

Missiroli asked Montanelli, his paper's most important columnist, to conduct the interview, preferring him to the official Vatican analyst Silvio Negro. Montanelli, an agnostic, was unfamiliar with the world of the Church, but nonetheless had a lively conversation with the Pope.

John XXIII spoke candidly at that time about some of his private opinions, including his low esteem for Pope Pius X, who had been canonized some years before. He also announced to Montanelli that he intended to call an ecumenical council, but the journalist did not grasp the importance of that detail, giving it little attention in his article.

John XXIII's successor, Pope Paul VI, gave an interview to the Italian Vaticanista Alberto Cavallari in 1965, which was published Oct. 4 of that year, again in Corriere della Sera.

Paul VI was very outspoken, addressing the problem of the lack of faith, explaining that “the need of the Church to open up” comes from the fact that “millions of people do belong to any religious faith anymore.”

Bob, good news -- you don't need a label, just a diagnosis: PTSD, or Pope Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pat Archbold has it, and explains the symptoms:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/pope-traumatic-stress-disorder

I worry not for the Church's survival or the Catholicity of the Pope, but for the souls entrusted to her care. I worry that the spirit of the times can overwhelm the truth contained in the Pope's rhetoric, even if that is not what he intended. It has happened before.

I worry because those most encouraged by the Pope's word and style are those most vehemently opposed to the Church and her mission. I worry that Pope Francis, like Pope Paul VI, may look back on his pontificate and wonder what went wrong.

I worry because the Pope's chosen methods of impromptu communication lends itself to use by the spirit of the times that seeks only justification of its contrary will. I worry that this can happen all over again. I worry because souls are at stake.

Creepy article, David.  And creepy comments beneath.  

Creepy?  Right, Gerelyn, but more than that. 

To use a legitimate disorder caused by such things as war experiences, rape, childhood abuse, to name a few causes as an analogy for Mr. Archbold's intense fear of what this pope is doing and saying about where our Church needs to be is unconscionable.

PTSD theapies usually involve finding ways of coping with the disorder. I suggest that he read or reread the Beatitiudes and Matthew 25:31-46 or, better yet, that he go and work in a soup kitchen.

Agree, Helen, that it's waay worse than creepy.  

I just hope Francis is being well protected.  

 

Calling the the pope's remarks in these interviews "careless" strikes me as rather bold, even if he did the human thing and admitted his imperfections. 

s.v. parrhesia

Speaking truth to power, are we? Exhilarating. And yet, it's one thing to say, "I wish your formulations had been more precise," and quite another to say, "and therefore I deem them careless."

Could you put that into English, please?

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.