Worried about the Pope’s unscripted statements?

Relax. He knows what he's doing.
Pope blesses Harley Davidsons at Vatican yesterday

Pope blesses Harley Davidsons at Vatican yesterday

The following comes from an essay by Phil Lawler run on Catholic Culture June 17.

By now we know that Pope Francis enjoys talking without a script. His fondness for extemporaneous comments makes him an interesting subject for journalists. But it worries quite a few Catholics, who fear that an ill-chosen phrase from the Pontiff could cause troubles for the Church. Indeed some people would have us believe the troubles have already begun.

I understand the concerns about off-the-cuff papal remarks. Remarks by the Holy Father could easily be misunderstood, for several reasons:

  • because he does not have a cadre of speechwriters screening each sentence for potential trouble;
  • because he is usually speaking in Italian, and although he is fluent in that language it is not his mother tongue, so he may not be aware of every nuance; and
  • because his remarks are reported and interpreted to the world by journalists who do not have a fundamental understanding of the Catholic faith.

Should we be worried, then, about the possibility of some terrible papal gaffe? I don’t think so. Pope Francis is a very intelligent man, and he was chosen by his fellow cardinals to be Roman Pontiff because they recognized his sound pastoral judgment. Rather than trying to “handle” the Pope, or “explain” his statements, I’d recommend that faithful Catholics pray for him, and then relax. The Holy Father knows what he’s doing.

Will some of his unscripted comments cause public debates? Absolutely! Those debates have already begun. No doubt the Pope anticipated that he would occasionally cause a ruckus, and welcomed that possibility. In his own way he is encouraging people to talk about the faith. The conversation may not proceed smoothly, but Pope Francis has been very consistent in saying that the faithful should plunge into the work of evangelization without waiting for the perfect opportunity (which will never come).

If you’re determined to do the work, you’ll have to get your hands dirty, he tells us. So I don’t think he will be devastated if, now and then, he realizes that he phrased a particular statement poorly. He won’t be surprised to learn that he is imperfect. Nor will he allow the knowledge of his imperfections to stop him from plunging ahead once again.

Keep in mind, too, that many of the unscripted papal statements hitting the headlines these days are made during his homilies at daily Mass. When he preaches to a small congregation at the Domus Sanctae Marthae he is not issuing formal policy statements. He is speaking as a pastor of souls: encouraging, correcting, clarifying, offering spiritual direction.

During these first weeks of the new pontificate, some traditionalist Catholics have been particularly unhappy with the Pope’s statements, complaining that he has directed his criticisms at them. Perhaps he has; is that a bad thing? If traditionalists are no longer willing to accept admonition from the Vicar of Christ—to recognize that they, like all fallen men, are subject to particular unhealthy temptations and tendencies that they should resist—then they are in grave danger of losing their ties to the Church, and the Pope’s warnings are all the more relevant!

This week the Pope caused headlines with his frank acknowledgement that a “gay lobby” exists within the Vatican bureaucracy. The existence of such a “gay lobby” is not news, but the Pope’s willingness to speak about it is. True, he did not make the remark in a public forum, and the group to which he was speaking later apologized for allowing the story to leak.

But the Pope is not naïve; he certainly knows that if half-dozen people hear such a candid comment, the whole world will soon know about it. Pope Francis may not have anticipated, or wanted, the headlines that would flash around the world the next day, but I’m sure he did want to send a message.

In that same talk to a visiting group from Chile, the Pope said that he would need help with the daunting task of reforming the Roman Curia, because he himself is quite “disorganized.” In one sense, no doubt that is true. His style of leadership does not lend itself to carefully polished public statements, step-by-step guidelines, and a smooth flow of paperwork.

But even if his working habits are messy, he has a vision for the reform that the Church needs, and is determined to carry it out. During the conversations leading up to the conclave that elected him, then-Cardinal Bergoglio commanded the attention of the cardinal-electors with a quick, insightful summary of the needs of the universal Church. In effect he presented a plan, and the conclave endorsed it.

To read the entire piece, click here.


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  1. I happen to LOVE the Holy Father’s surprising remarks — they often make me re-think what I do or why I do it. For example, his recent statement:
    “I’ll share two worries of mine. One is a pelagian current that’s in the church at this time. There are certain restorationist groups. I know them as I took to receiving them in Buenos Aires. And you feel like you’ve gone back 60 years! Before the Council… you feel like it’s 1940 again… One anecdote, only to illustrate this – not to make you laugh – I took it with respect, but it bothered me; when they [the cardinals] elected me, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they told me; ‘Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.’ Why they didn’t say ‘we’re praying for you,’ let’s wonder… but this [thing] of taking account [of prayers]… and these groups return to practices and disciplines I lived – not you, none of you are old – to things that were lived in that moment, but not now, they aren’t today….
    “The second [worry] is over a gnostic current. These pantheisms… they’re both currents of elites, but this one is of a more formed elite. I knew of one superior general who encouraged the sisters of her congregation to not prayer in the morning, but to give themselves a spiritual bath in the cosmos, such things…. These bother me because they lack the Incarnation! And the Son of God who became our flesh, the Word made flesh, and in Latin America we have this flesh being shot from the rooftops! What happens to the poor, in their sorrows, that is our flesh.
    “The Gospel is not the ancien regime, nor is it this pantheism. If you look to the outskirts; the indigent… the drug addicts! The trade [trafficking] of persons… That’s the Gospel. The poor are the Gospel….”

  2. Each Pope has been given different gifts by God.
    Only in matters of Faith and Morals do we have an obligation to listen and obey Him.
    We must never believe everything we hear in the SECULAR press, or in the “National Catholic REPORTER”. Always check things out to insure accuracy.
    Never quote the Pope in the media until one is positive of his intent and accuracy of his statement.

  3. And you know all this re Pope Francis … how? In fact last week the Vatican allowed that this Pope speaks Italian poorly. (While PBXVI a non-Italian is said to have spoken beautiful Italian). The only language Pope Francis is adept at is his native Argentine language. The concern is not about this particular person per se who refers to himself as “Bishop of Rome” but seems to forget that he IS the Pope of the universal Church and thus anything he says or does is pertinent not only to Catholics but also to the enemies of the faith. Causing confusion among the faithful by his off hand remarks is serious. Seems that he longs to be ‘loved’ by the people yet forgets that it is not his job to be ‘loved’ but to ‘lead’ all the faithful re the truths of the faith. A Pope must possess discretion and diplomacy; as well as clarity and unequivocal truth which IS Christ. Some have referred to him as being the Pope of cafeteria Catholics based on his off the cuff remarks which appear to be more aimed at not offending whomever he happens to be speaking with than delivering a very sincere yet clear message. Yet what he does causes confusion even among those who pray and hope for a successful papacy and pontificate during his time. He appears to be a man who does not truly know himself, as he sees himself as first one image – that of a simple street preacher (i.e, St. Francis) then another like Pope John XII; PJPII; etc. Strangely he never compares himself to Pope Benedict XVI who is indeed a man fully aware of who he was in God’s sight w/o any equivocation. PBVXI possesses a simplicity, clarity, and resoluteness which cause him to be understandable to everyone – young & old; cleric, religious & laity; friends & foes.
    Pope Francis concedes his lack of organization; lack administrative abilities (why he choose 8 Cardinals to help him); who one moment says he can’t live ‘isolated’ in Papal apts for health reasons physical and mental; very next moment says he is being led to live as he does by ‘Someone’ else;next he says he wants to be close to the people. Well. which is it?? Even in such a simple matter as who he is – he is confused. And THAT, is very serious for the fact of our One Catholic and Universal Church.

    • SomeOtherJohn says:

      wow! off your meds? ease up. you are sounding a little nutty.

      the pope speaks italian just fine. he knows it because of his father, but is not classically educated in the language. that’s why they don’t release transscripts of his homilies. in agentina, kids are schooled in spanish, just like here with english. benedict learned his extra languages by study. there is a difference.

      as for the rest of your ‘stuff’, you are being silly. if a man fails to compare himself to another, it should be taken as a sign that he is his own man. sure, he stands on the shoulders of giants. when he starts to justify himself with comparisons to those who came before him, that’s when it is time to worry. until then, just calm down, step away from the keyboard and no one will get hurt.

      besides, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t like him, He will do something about it. there is a plan, ya know?

      • Rod McKuen says:

        “Off your meds” is an ad hominem attack, unworthy of your fine logical ability, you don’t need to argue like that, we’re not street fighters. catholicworldreport.com/Item/2288/an_argument_for_arguing_well.aspx

        • Abeca Christian says:

          I agree with Rod, SomeOther John your other comments were fine but you did not have to insult by saying they were on med’s. That was uncalled for.

    • Anonymous says:

      So, sam, you choose to believe the bureaucracy rather than the Pope.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve read that he speaks Spanish, Italian and German.

    • Gail Ramplen says:

      It sounds like you are trying to remake the Pope in a pre-conceived image – a two dimensional cardboard man – a cut out – and you are having problems with his multi-faceted personality. It seems he is stepping ahead of you.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      I have always been under the impression that the language of Argentina is Italian, am I wrong?

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  4. Bwangi Kilonzo says:

    As a Catholic all you need to know is this, Every time a Pope opens his mouth in public does not mean he is estamblishing a Dogma.

  5. Rod McKuen says:

    If we are being wise as serpents and innocent as doves, those in the world who are sincerely searching for truth will recognize our good will. We are supposed to do the opposite of rash judgment, impute good will in others’ actions up to the point we need to exercise one of the spiritual works of mercy, admonish sinners, otherwise, we need to put the best face on what others say and do. Even outside the Faith this is recognized, in the 2nd most translated writing, of Taoism: “He who does not trust enough is not trusted.” (Whatever is good in other traditions, we may use it.)

    The Faith preceded its commitment to writing. It was handed on in an oral form. My Pastor, Fr. Jeremy Leatherby kofc15693.org/chaplain-podcasts/ reports the exciting finding, that when our Blessed Lord told the Apostles in John 16:13 that “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth”, usccb.org/bible/john/16/#51016013 , the Apostles had the complete fullness of Truth, the Whole account of the Good News.

    There’s a video “BEFORE HE WAS POPE – The Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist ” youtu.be/0yr0pIdGqQU . Holy Father Francis looks you in the eye, your earlthy Father, he is talking to you, one on one. Look at it and keep dry eyes.

    If the whole world could see Holy Father Francis talking to them, one on one, there would be millions of conversions to the Faith.

    The news media will turn on him, they will eventually read the worst in what he says. The only thing that matters, is not on whose side God is, because He’s on all our sides, more than we ourselves. The only thing that matters is who is on God’s side, what is God’s opinion, the only public opinion poll, of Three Divine Persons.

  6. Abeca Christian says:

    Why fret….life’s too short….He is a holy Pope…don’t worry about it!

  7. Anton L Seidl says:

    The Holy Father will be misquoted, his words will be twisted, their meaning distorted. Everyone will read into his statements whatever they want him to say, or wish he had said, in accordance with their own prejudices and predilections. Sophists of all persuasions will reinterpret his statements and put words into his mouth. This has already begun. Read the secular press. Better yet, read the National Catholic Reporter. I say pay no attention to what journalists say, most are not friends of the Church. Listen to the words of Pope Francis, unfiltered by the media.

  8. Thomas Edward Miles says:

    The Holy Father, S.J. off the cuff remarks do not concern me in the least! However, (the Archbishops statement of late do not meet the grammatical criteria regarding a full sentence) the comments put fourth by the Archbishop of San Francisco with regard to same sex marriage do concern me greatly!! I have no problem with the church teaching on sacramental marriage as rightly stated by the unproven Archbishop, however, some of, not all, of his remarks appear to be uneducated with regarding to same sex CIVIL marriage! According to the Archbishop’s statements it is acceptable to place a child in a CRACK HOUSE as long as the couple is joined in heterosexual union, that false understandings of a marital union is contrary to the church teaching on the family! The Archbishop needs to REFRAIN, to STOP, making immature, discriminatory and incendiary comments, his remarks lack the charity and the tolerance that is grounded in the GOSPELS of revealed truth!! His arguments need not continued to be put fourth in a mean spirited and a hostile manner!

    • Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says:

      The Ordained Archbishop of San Francisco will never advice you to sin. Even in civil situations. The crimes you are proposing go againist nature. Putting Children in these sorts of situations in unjust.
      Where is your social justice nose?

      You would put Children inhabited by people engaging in Sodomy? That is a crime aganist Humanity.

      Certainly the Archbishop is correct.

    • Bwangi Kilonzo says:

      Is you soul so lost in darkness that you cannot see Sodomy will lead you to hell? Repent and conform yourself to the Holy Spirit!

      A Soul that is attached to any sin will never like ever enter heaven. What if (God forbid) you were to die today? Would you go to heaven?

      Go to confession, pray the rosary and erase all the bad stuff you have published for they will continue to lead souls to hell!!

      Do you realize that?

      • Abeca Christian says:

        They know deep down but many are just rebels and have free will. Once you accustomed the conscience to accept more sins of comfort and bad will….that is how souls are lost.

    • Please show me a transcript or video of the Archbishop saying exactly that or is that your interpretation and addition to what he said?

    • What, TEM, you’re busy blogging from a crack house!? Sure sounds like it.

  9. Erin Pascal says:

    The Pope’s extemporaneous speaking is impressive. You can say that the words that come out of his mouth is the truth because it is straight from the mind and it is fresh. If Pope Francis really wanted to send a message, this is definitely the best way to do it.

  10. Gladstone says:

    “If traditionalists are no longer willing to accept admonition from the Vicar of Christ—to recognize that they, like all fallen men, are subject to particular unhealthy temptations and tendencies that they should resist—then they are in grave danger of losing their ties to the Church, and the Pope’s warnings are all the more relevant!”

    - But liberal Catholics can keep as they are! In fact, we won’t ever mention liberal Catholics as such, many of whom have spent their entire lives unwilling to accept the admonitions of the Catechism against contraception, fornication, or the need for Confession, because they agree with our heterodox blather!

    That’s right, we’ll save our ire and hatred for our favorite minority punching bag, the Catholic who believes, loves and lives the Holy Faith! – Got that, all you 1940s codgers?

    • Happy to be a 1940s codger and I go to the Novus Ordo Mass, EF when I can get to it. Diplomacy is certainly not the Pope’s middle name. I think he needs to realise he’s not in Argentina anymore, and perhaps stop playing to the gallery so much. I have never criticised a living Pope before. But I am non-plussed and embarrassed by this one.

      • Ah…and many of the disciples were “embarrassed” by Jesus.
        “Heaven forbid, Lord, that any such thing should happen to you!” If Saint Peter could try to control what Jesus would say, I’m not surprised that Catholics are trying to control what the Holy Father says…

    • Gladstone, your meds are obviously the problem. Dump ‘em and go traditional with Russian vodka and Hostess Twinkies, and your blogs will make more sense.

  11. Gail Ramplen says:

    Re: ‘Rather than trying to “handle” the Pope, or “explain” his statements, I’d recommend that faithful Catholics pray for him, and then relax. ‘
    Reply: I agree. Excellent advice, because no matter what he says the enemies of the Church are going to have a problem sooner or later. It goes with the territory.

  12. Pope Francis asks us to pray three Hail Marys daily for him. So, I do. Now I see
    that in a recent talk Pope Francis said that those of us responding to the Pope’s request border onPelagianism and are not the brightest wing of Catholicism. Very confusing tosay the least. Nonetheless, I will continue to say three Hail Mary’s for the Pope.

    • Nicholas says:

      As a person who is personally familiar with the idea Pope Francis condemned, he was spot on. The danger with Catholicism, and especially the more traditional approach to it can be classified as Pelagianism: I have nothing against traditional Catholics, as I come from a family of them and am myself somewhat of one, but the Pope’s remark is very true: every charism has the extreme it can go to, and putting ritual and works above God’s grace is the extreme of traditionalism. Granted, Pope Francis’s example was not the best, but like St. Paul he must be taken in context: in context I see no reason for saying he opposes the saying of the rosary. What he opposes, it would seem, is making the rosary and other such devotions our entire prayer life, you might say. If, like my family, the only time you pray together is to say the rosary (during which the only thing the children can think of is getting back to regular life) then your priorities are wrong.

      • Going to the traditional Latin Mass weekly does not make one a “traditionalist”. But the traditionalists have a great part in helping to bring forward the traditional Latin Mass, which is a blessed thing to do, and will no doubt waive many faults among that category of worshipers. Too bad the novus ordo liturgy does not have the same means of effecting holiness though. It is more like the party and the Mass combined, which St Paul advised against.

    • Anne T. says:

      I really think that most people who tell someone that so many prayers are being said for them, just want the person to know how many people love and are praying for them. I have been involved in such prayers a few times and not all were started by Traditionalist Catholics but Catholics of all stripes, most of whom went to post Vatican II Masses. I really do not see anything wrong with it if the people have the right motives. To me it is just to show the person how many people really care about them. Perhaps in the Holy Father’s country it was misused.

      • If Anne T. were running a catechism class, and I were not so contentious and muck racking, I’d go and attend it. I think PA’s inner self would benefit eternally by enrolling … since he does not have an outer self that makes any sense, he wouldn’t need to bring that.

    • There are lots of off kilter ideologies besides Pelagianism. It’s a fad that kicks up because it’s the only word with over five syllables that people can latch onto at one time and spout forth as if they know what they’re talking about.

  13. Anonymous 2 says:

    Pope Francis seems to be secure and trusting the Holy Spirit and not man! He is not afraid to make mistakes or be a human being who is weak but trusts the Lord to correct him. It shows he has a “personal relationship” with Jesus.
    This pope is showing us how to be a CHILD OF GOD and not an “Adult of God.” A child trusts the Father and is not afraid to be a child.
    Jesus was hated by the “experts” of His time because He did not live the way they wanted Him to live. He was who HE was, the I AM!
    It would help if we would focus on the Lord and trust as we worship Jesus and call on the Father’s blessings and thank Him for every breath we take!

    • Pat Tulley says:

      Trusting in the Lord means OBEDIENCE to His teachings as stated in the Bible and CCC.
      All of them, not merely some of them.

      • Following Jesus while lugging your cross sets you free from the Law, because you are with Jesus. You judaizers keep harping on the same thing that Jesus condemned for ruining his Mosaic people, the pharisees constructing hundreds and hundreds of minutia laws that crushed His people. If you have to read a book daily to keep yourself from robbing children coming out of the candy store, then you’re a long ways from following Jesus.

    • Well said, A2, and of course we have the followup bandwagon that stammers for some sort of tyrannical dictatorial oppression … and they’ll tell you what the CCC2ndEd compels you to do; sign on and you’ll receive a bill in the mail.

  14. I’m reeling from his latest comment that we don’t need to be “spiritual bums”. I think someone is having a great joke at our expense. I’m hoping for a really, really early retirement before things get even worse. The Papacy is being turned into a joke.

    • wilhelmlna vredenburg says:

      Don’t think,he will retire soon,heaven send this pope,and how we need this,for times we live in ,his road is long and hard,so pray for him.Dont judge the pope,or we will be judged 10 times over,when we stand before the throne of God.Love you Pope Francis

      • Hogwash, wilmelmina … God judges, man discerns. Stop wandering around in a blind tither and begin to seek Jesus.

    • Anonymous says:

      Freda, I don’t know what he meant by that particular phrase but in the context of the paragraph he seems to be saying that the “poor” are not necessarily those who are destitute but also people who are intellectually poor, poor in terms of knowing Jesus Christ

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank and Praise God for our Pope Francis.

  16. Jesus remind us that where the body is the vultures will circle . Why some people are judging Pope Francis so harshly ? well, is beyond me,. While his attackers are in need of a lot of words to discredit him, he only use few words to convey the truth love and charity of Our Lord Jesus Gospels. Hail Mary full of grace……

    • Jesus tells us to discern the spirits. Slothful people call it judging and poo poo it. I prefer the Catholic religion over the poo poo religion of so many who refuse to ask Jesus for true knowledge.

  17. Pat Tulley says:

    When / IF there are any changes we need to know about – - – the Holy Father (in conjunction with his Bishops who are in communion with him – the Magisterium) will publish an official Apostolic Statement if there are any changes or additions or deletions to Church teaching.

    Until that time – if it should ever happen – adhere to:
    Holy Scripture, “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”, Code of Canon Law, and GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal).
    These have all been promulgated and published with Apostolic Authority.

    General remarks are interesting but not necessarily Church Doctrine. So don’t worry if you don’t understand translations of his comments.

    • Adhering to rules is the remedy for keeping just out of the clutches of sin, and the Jews had this. But Jesus Christ is one who is to be followed … He is a living human being and the living God, and it is not a matter of adhering to a book. It is a matter of picking up one’s cross and following Jesus. You do this by … picking up your cross and following Him. If you can’t see what this means, then pray for it. The Church is not built on any book, but is the union of God and man. The kingdom of Heaven is here and now as well as yet to come. No book is going to unite anyone with God; only Jesus can do that.

  18. Fr. Chris Fontanini says:

    Yes, Pope Benedict XVI was indeed a holy man of God and wrote many works that are quite understandable to the average person. I do find Pope Francis to be a breath of fresh air. I believe he is a holy man of God who does say what is on his mind. I have found nothing heretical about him. I think he will clean house, he has spoken extensively on the devil, and what marriage is and about life issues. Jesus Christ ticked off those on the right and left of his own day and for that, he was crucified. He preached truth. So, if Pope Francis is an equal opportunity offender may be he is doing something right.

    • Jesus was crucified for claiming to be God, not for ticking off the right and left. In fact Jesus says He can work with the hot and cold, but will spew out the lukewarm from his mouth.

  19. Ramanie says:

    God bless our beloved Pope Francis The 1st . May his humility and intelligence guide us his church for Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother.We need him for our era of such termoil I love you Pope Francis. God Be with you every moment.

  20. The comment in this article about Pope Francis not having Italian as his mother tongue is not exactly correct. Though he is from Argentina and obviously spoke Spanish, he is culturally Italian by birth and was taught the language by his grandparents. I am an American by birth but culturally Italian by heritage. I understand everything about the Italian way of perceiving things. I’m sure the Pope knows exactly what he is saying and how it is perceived by the people in Italy.

  21. Gail Ramplen says:

    To find out what the Pope is up against check out this: -
    http://www.catholicbooksanddevotions.com/pondering-the-state-of-the-catholic-church/ It is never easy to fight a secret enemy, especially when your troops are fast asleep. God bless

    • Anonymous says:

      So which Pope or Popes are you accusing of being an anti-pope?

      • Anne T. says:

        None, Anonymous. I hope. None. Everyone just has his/her favorite one at times because we are all human with different tastes and different problems..

  22. Sean North says:

    The commentary from Lawler comes from a man who needs to maintain amiable Vatican contacts and good relations with the Vatican inside men. Thus, this contribution to the ongoing cult of personality which has been a hallmark of any papal discussions since Pope John Paul I.

    My view of Pope Francis (for whom I pray every day) has been crafted by two facts: (1) As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, his seminary reeked of the post-conciliar decay and is virtually empty and (2) he promoted civil sodomite unions in Argentina (NOT siding with those few bishops who wanted to oppose all sodomite “unions” sponsored by the corrupt State.

    Most of the comments on this site reflect the mentality of people who have spent their entire lives inside an insane asylum (an apt analogy for 50 years of the post-conciliar Church). Proof? Yesterday we read in the Liturgy of the Hours that no homosexuals will ever see heaven. We have a Pope who has embraced a compromise with the State to permit the institutionalization of the sodomite perversion throughout the society from whence he came.

    And everyone will now commence to lecture me about my lack of charity toward the Successor of St. Peter. Tell it to St. Jerome, not to this poor sinner.

  23. SandraD says:

    Our dear Pope knows exactly what he is doing. Praise God. Catholics and the world will hear the Truth–I pray that it will save souls before it’s too late. Pope Francis is the moral compass of the Church. He points to God and away from Satan.

    Now we need ALL priests to speak out on the same topics and follow their Shepherd’s lead. Save souls for the good of the Kingdom of God! Speak out against same sex attraction, speak out against abortion, speak out against contraception, speak out against human trafficing–speak out.

  24. Magdalen Mauldin says:

    I love our new Pope Francis just as much as I respected our retired Pope. I think Pope Francis is bringing the Vatican back down to Earth. I pray every day for him.

  25. Heavens, let the man have his say. Not all leaders need a teleprompter to speak ;)

  26. Mike Magee says:

    I thought fluency included complete command of a language, especially coloquialisms and even vulgarities.

    No matter if the Pope only read carefully prepared documents, there are commentators of all stripes who will spin every line every which way.

    Most public speakers make a serious gaffe sooner or later and manage to keep going. Perhaps a gaffe or two will let us hear the Pope’s real thoughts.

  27. Roberta Genini says:

    Just a word about Pope Francis’s relative lack of language skills compared to most recent popes. He appears to be fluent only in Spanish and Italian, although his Italian, as has been pointed out, may not be at a fully native level. Spanish is dominant language in any case.

    Not to be able to preach, however haltingly, in a variety of world languages is certainly a handicap. Perhaps he will obtain expert and consistent help in preparing remarks in other languages to emphasize the catholicity of his remarks.
    This would also help avoid some weak translations I have noticed.

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