Pope Francis on mass media and name (Full Text)

(Vatican Radio) Addressing the media as “dear friends”, Pope Francis spoke of how the role of mass media continues to grow and how it is indispensible for telling the stories of contemporary society. The Pope thanked the media for the service they have rendered over these past days, jokingly remarking on how hard the media has been working. He spoke about the complexity of recounting historical events like the election of a pope and of how important it is to present such an event in the light of Faith. “The Church” – he said – “does not respond to an earthly logic” and can be difficult to communicate effectively because “the nature of the Church is spiritual, not political”. This is the only perspective in which the work of the Church can be presented, said Pope Francis.

Full Text:

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, I am pleased to meet all of you who have worked here in Rome throughout this intense period which began with the unexpected announcement made by my venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI on 11 February last. To each of you I offer a cordial greeting.

The role of the mass media has expanded immensely in these years, so much so that they are an essential means of informing the world about the events of contemporary history. I would like, then, to thank you in a special way for the professional coverage which you provided during these days – you really worked, didn’t you? – when the eyes of the whole world, and not just those of Catholics, were turned to the Eternal City and particularly to this place which has as its heart the tomb of Saint Peter. Over the past few weeks, you have had to provide information about the Holy See and about the Church, her rituals and traditions, her faith and above all the role of the Pope and his ministry.

I am particularly grateful to those who viewed and presented these events of the Church’s history in a way which was sensitive to the right context in which they need to be read, namely that of faith. Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events! But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to use, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public. The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.

Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Successor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.

It is important, dear friends, to take into due account this way of looking at things, this hermeneutic, in order to bring into proper focus what really happened in these days.

All of this leads me to thank you once more for your work in these particularly demanding days, but also to ask you to try to understand more fully the true nature of the Church, as well as her journey in this world, with her virtues and her sins, and to know the spiritual concerns which guide her and are the most genuine way to understand her. Be assured that the Church, for her part, highly esteems your important work. At your disposal you have the means to hear and to give voice to people’s expectations and demands, and to provide for an analysis and interpretation of current events. Your work calls for careful preparation, sensitivity and experience, like so many other professions, but it also demands a particular concern for what is true, good and beautiful. This is something which we have in common, since the Church exists to communicate precisely this: Truth, Goodness and Beauty “in person”. It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness.

Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes. I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and with cordial good wishes for you and your families, each of your families. I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.

I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you!


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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27 Responses to Pope Francis on mass media and name (Full Text)

  1. Marcella says:

    How wonderful – he makes no attempt to speak their language! They must have felt exceedingly shallow!


  2. JabbaPapa says:

    What a wonderful speech !!!

    Bless our Holy Father !!!


  3. toad says:

    “How wonderful – he makes no attempt to speak their language! They must have felt exceedingly shallow!”

    Who, exactly, are “They”, Marcella – and what is “their language”?

    If, as I suppose, you mean the Media (usually referred to on CP&S as “loony”) the people involved speak a variety of languages, depending on their nationalities.
    And I can’t see how someone making no attempt to speak my particular language would make me feel even a little bit shallow, let alone “exceedingly.”.

    But perhaps I misunderstand. Can you can explain more fully what you mean?.


  4. JabbaPapa says:

    Toad, IIRC “they” would include yourself (Hello !!!) — this might be the cause of your misunderstanding, AKA the Holy Father’s lack of an attempt to explain things according to your own expectations.


  5. toad says:

    What makes you think I have any expectations whatever , in this respect, Jabba?
    And how would you know, anyway?
    In fact, I was very pleased and impressed with what Papa Francisco said. For what that’s worth. And why should it include me?
    I’m toast. Out of it. Happily.


  6. JabbaPapa says:

    What makes you think I have any expectations whatever

    My knowledge of human nature.


  7. toad says:

    As I grow older, Jabba, I have come to realize I know less and less about more and more. And practically nothing for certain.
    But I strongly suspect your “knowledge of human nature” is about as extensive as your knowledge of my expectations regarding Pope Francisco, or the editorial techniques (whatever that means) of the average gossip rag.

    And, re your comments on the other “thread,” I suggest there’s a very considerable distance between “entertaining expectations,” vain though they may seem to you, and regarding them as “prurient, illogical and sinful.”

    And now I’ll call it a day on this one.


  8. JabbaPapa says:

    OK sorry then I’ll be even more blunt — it is silly to imagine that you might be devoid of such expectations, and your statement that this might be the case is unbelievable.


  9. Frere Rabit says:

    The idea of a Papa Poverello would have been anathema to St Francis. The saint respected the Pope as God’s representative on earth. He would have regarded as nonsense any suggestion that taking the bus, rejecting the proper vestments, or wearing his old shoes, were signs that a pope had learned to be “on the side of the poor”.

    St Francis has been used by many, since his rediscovery by protestants in the 19th century (and the consequent protestantisation of his Catholic message ever since), to symbolise an alternative pole to the “power” of the Church. That is a total misreading of Franciscan history.

    If a pope now wants to fall into that trap, move the papacy towards that alternative pole, or cynically use the imagery to his advantage, that would be unfortunate. Let us hope that is not what Pope Francis intends, even if the media do.


  10. mmvc says:

    Thank you Frere Rabit for articulating so succinctly what has been on my mind over the past few days. I too hope and pray that this is not Pope Francis’ intention.


  11. Gertrude says:

    mmvc: After the emotion that accompanied the Papal election, we all pray that his remarks to his brother-cardinals “May God forgive you for what you have done” do not prove prophetic.


  12. golden chersonnese says:

    This Jesuit seems to think (or at least hope) that Papa Francesco is still a Jesuit, rather than a Franciscan.


    Besides, broadly speaking, Jesuits are mainly neo-Thomists and Franciscans neo-Platonists, aren’t they?

    teresa, a penny for your thoughts?


  13. golden chersonnese says:

    It is probably a very minor point, but I see that Pope John Paul I indeed styled himself John Paul I from the beginning, unlike Francis not 1.

    See here.


  14. Frere Rabit says:

    Neoplatonism is all very well, but the distinction between Jesuits and Franciscans is one that first existed in the mind of God.


  15. golden chersonnese says:

    Amusing, Frere Rabit.


  16. johnhenrycn says:

    The comments above which are critical, or suspicious, of Pope Francis and his agenda are unfair, if only because he’s only 4 days into his pontificate. Give him a break. Even I, very conservative, politically and economically, and a liturgical tradi-sympathizer, not only hope for, but take it as read that his pontificate will be a wonderful one. Which is not to say he might not (forgive the double negative) rankle me on occasion, but if we second guess him now, even before he’s settled in, what chance do we have of slapping down the satanic media when they start – what, a week from now? – biting at his heels. Our job is to defend the Church, which – on this side of eternity – means defending the Pope. Thank you and good night.


  17. toad says:

    “Let us hope that to (cynically use the imagery to his advantage) is not what Pope Francis intends, even if the media do.”
    “..what chance do we have of slapping down the satanic media when they start – what, a week from now?”

    It’s ironic (to him) that Toad, who has always regarded “The Media” with a good deal of cynical skepticism from an inside vantage-point, finds himself regularly acting as unpaid flack for it on CP&S.
    He thinks the perceived problem is that “The Media” consistently fails to treat religion as if it was something somehow sacred.
    So, what he would like to be told on here is just how “The Media” ought to treat stories regarding, in this case, Catholicism.

    Ought “The Media”…
    1: Never run “nasty” things?
    2: Only run “nice” things?
    3: Never run anything at all?
    4: Or what?

    And.. Is it all right to run “nasty” things about others – like Protestants, Muslims, Mormons and The Quivering Brethren?
    If the answer is no.2, should “The Media” be consistent, and only run “nice” things about bankers. lawyers, politicians and Rupert Murdoch, for example?


  18. Frere Rabit says:

    Toad, you protest too much. The media know how to make a story out of the pope walking past his limousine and getting onto a bus. They know how to focus their readers’ and viewers’ attention on abuse cases, as if the Catholic Church was the only institution in the world that has been let down by sinners in its midst. Until the media also learn how to make stories that sensibly convey the realities of faith in the world (in the same way that they convey for example the realities of football and cricket, without concentrating on some obsession of their own – let us say, for example, match fixing – in a totally imbalanced way) then Catholics may criticise the media less frequently.

    My earlier point – which seems to have been misunderstood by one reader here – was about a misunderstanding of St Francis largely due to the protestantising of his life by 19th century protestant interpreters of 13th century Catholicism. The media could be forgiven for following that lead, and the danger is that a deliberate play on the symbolism of St Francis to send out signals about a new kind of papacy could easily backfire.


  19. toad says:

    “The media know how to make a story out of the pope walking past his limousine and getting onto a bus.”
    This is where you, and many others, demonstrate your “innocence” of “The Media” Rabit.
    If the Pope were to bypass his Popemobile* and get on a bus, that, it would indeed be a story, and a very big one.
    The Media wouldn’t have to “make” it.

    In fact, the Media makes very little, if anything, up, if that’s what you (and others) are suggesting. There’s no need to.
    Just recording the indisputable, endless, folly of mankind as it happens is more than enough for them to chew on, without the slightest need to invent extra imbecility.
    And anyway, to invent things that are more even horrible and unlikely than a great deal of day-to-day life on planet earth would be near impossible..

    * Toad believes he invented that name, years ago, on The Daily Mirror. Not that it matters.


  20. Frere Rabit says:

    So, you are responsible for the term “Popemobile,” Toad. Did you know that when the Pope got on a bus the other day, the conductor demanded, “Habemusbus ticket?”


  21. kathleen says:

    Toad, in your sole-handed valiant attempt of trying to defend the ‘fair-mindedness’ and ‘impartiality’ of the media, you are marching out of time…… Everyone else (even those who have, like you, worked in journalism) admits that the media is biased and going all out for the best-selling stories, pandering to the secular godless masses, rather than seeking the objective truth.
    That’s how they make their money! 😉

    Just one small example for you, out of thousands: Card. George Pell was accused of molesting a seminarian once. He adamantly denied the charges, but decided to step down whilst an investigation was made. This news was flashed all across the front pages of newspapers across the world. It transpired that the accusation was proven to be totally false – not even a shadow of doubt that it was an outright lie – and nothing was said in any newspaper (except Catholic ones) vindicating this innocent man.
    So, how do you explain that?


  22. Jerry says:

    Miracle? 😉


  23. kathleen says:

    That our resident Toad is silent, and unable to give an explanation for the above (however wonky or convoluted that ‘explanation’ might be) in order to defend his cherished media, must certainly be a miracle! 😉


  24. toad says:

    Toad has been silent for a few hours, Kathleen, because he has been busy and has only just seen your comment of March 20. Sorry this will be so long.
    1: Yes, the media is generally biased in favour of one viewpoint or other. The Telegraph is “rightish,” the Guardian Is “Leftish,” The NYT is “Liberal,” Fox news is “Illiberal,” and so on. I presume “The Jewish Chronicle” is biased in favour of Jews. But I don’t personally know.

    And so are you, and so am I. You are biased in favour of Catholicism and why not? Toad is biased in favour of skepticism, agnosticism and all sorts of things, like gin and tonic and dogs. We are all a bundle of biases. We have to be. We are made that way.

    2: Yes, the media does go “all-out for the best selling stories.”
    If you were a journalist, I suppose you wouldn’t. Good luck in your new career.

    3: But the media, like all of us, is looking for the truth. They try not to print/broadcast untruths. Because if the run stuff that turns out to be wrong, it looks bad, and can lose circulation/viewers.
    And, yes, if they don’t make money, they go broke.

    4: How do I explain Pell? Like this. The media ran a story, which they did not make up – that Pell, a cardinal, had been accused of something bad.
    That is a fact.
    He had been.
    The accusation later turned out to be a lie. That would be a “good story” too, so I presume the media ran that as well, though I don’t personally know.
    If then – as you assert – the media, apart from those with a Catholic bias, failed to run any mention of Pell’s supposed innocence, that was careless and foolish of them, because they missed yet another good story. (And they all missed it? Hmmm…)
    But, of course, the media, like the Catholic Church, is a man-made institution, and is only human and gets a lot of things wrong, too many, no doubt. That is because it deals in a highly volatile product – news – which varies day by day.
    Unlike baked beans, which (ought!) never vary.

    The media, like everyone, does not enjoy getting things wrong. And, believe it, or not, goes to some length to avoid doing so.
    You don’t believe that, Kathleen? OK. That’s just another of your biases.


  25. toad says:


    Her is a “Media” story of which, presumably Kathleen might actually approve. Although it doesn’t fit in with her preconceived ideas that all the world’s media hates the Catholic Church, and anyone who has any connection with it.


  26. kathleen says:

    Biased Kathleen thanks biased Toad for his well laid out response above. (What a shame – no miracle after all – Toad has spoken!) 😉

    Even though Toad slips in a little fib or two……. supposedly as an ex-hack he can’t help that. N.B. I never said that “all the world’s media hates the Catholic Church”, but that the press is, in general, pretty anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic. Common knowledge, dear Toad, and if you would just try to analyse things objectively on what is going on around us, you will see that this is quite obviously so.
    But yes, I’m pretty sure no journalist would want to be found out to be an outright liar; that would not only be stupid when the lie is discovered (as you infer), but would also gain the media channel a complete lack of credibility. (Actually some parts of the media don’t even seem to care about this latter point – and they still manage to sell their rags to the gullible public that just loooove hearing about scandals, whether true, false, or manipulated!)

    My (and many Catholics’) complaint is more on what the media don’t say, than on what they do….. like in the Card Pell case. (There are many many other examples like this, but I’m short of time right now.)
    OK, so you don’t believe me that nothing was said about the vindication of Card Pell after it was discovered that the accusation of sexual misconduct was totally false – except maybe on Catholic and some Australian news channels? But I didn’t make that up Toad; I heard it stated in great indignation many times on EWTN, and in the Catholic press.


  27. toad says:

    “…Even though Toad slips in a little fib or two…”

    This is a vile slur! Toad never lies. Except, of course, when it is in his interests to do so.
    (Suppose I should add “Insert smiley face” just in case.)


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