Web Exclusive: The Pope & the People

Just posted to our website, William L. Portier on Francis and his "pastoral rhetoric of invitation."

Over the past two months, Pope Francis has begun to fashion from the interview/conversation form a new genre of papal pronouncement, minimally authoritative, but unprecedented in its reach. ... In the give and take of conversation, Pope Francis’s ad hoc interviews play off his interlocutors. From Skorka to Spadaro to Scalfari, he does not fear to give up full control and places himself in their hands. The in-flight interview had the highest degree of spontaneity, while Spadaro heavily edited the Jesuit interview. Amazingly, the conversation with Scalfari appears in the latter’s own redaction. Despite variations, the three papal interviews to date have much in common. The pope’s irrepressible and unaffected spiritual joy comes through each time. His interviews do not appear in Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Rather he injects them into the flow of the secular news cycle where they share its immediacy, interactivity and ephemeral nature. ...

This new genre of papal pronouncement dodges grasping handlers and bureaucrats who would brand the pope restrictively, frustrate his wishes, and control his access. Pope Francis is now an anticipated part of the news cycle. The papal news media interview takes him directly to the people, all the people.

Read the whole thing here.

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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