“Pope Francis just doesn’t understand the media.”
“Pope Francis’ handlers are sheltering him; he doesn’t realize the media is tampering his message.”
“The media is translating Pope Francis incorrectly, and he doesn’t know this.”
These excuses have riddled the papacy of Pope Francis for almost four years now, and I don’t think they can be applicable any longer, mostly because Pope Francis has a way to issue clarifications which he chooses not to use. One of these tools is Twitter.
Pope Francis has 10.1 million followers on his English Twitter account alone. Most of his tweets are, to be honest, pretty sappy. While they do have an element of truth to them, they contain mostly buzzwords that are popular in the Church today; mercy, encounter, dialogue, witness, and all that jazz.
Pope Francis is also known to read the La Repubblica on a daily basis. He has said that it is his favorite paper. La Repubblica is a very liberal publication, comparable to the New York Times.
To say that he does not know what the media is saying seems illogical to me, simply because he is reading what the media says about him daily. If there were inaccuracies, he could easily recant them by having the Vatican Press Office issue a statement affirming what he meant. He also could use that Twitter account to set the record straight.
We can compare him to President-elect Donald Trump. Before the weekend, many news outlets were reporting that Trump was planning to work on his show “The Apprentice” during his spare time.
However, Trump took to his Twitter page to immediately condemn the reporting and state that he is not working on “The Apprentice” squashing any rumors to the contrary.
This is quite the move on Trump’s part, having a direct line of communication with the American people and setting the record straight when the media won’t. Additionally, he has also been using Twitter to inform the American people on when he will announce his cabinet. For four years, Francis has seldom issued any retractions or corrections by himself or through his press office.
Logically we are left with only a couple of options as to why we see this behavior from Pope Francis.
One, he is truly being held captive. I find this difficult to believe, considering he is the Pope and he could easily issue corrections through Twitter, the Press Office, his audiences, his homilies, etc.
Two, he doesn’t think it’s as bad as it appears, which I also find to be highly unlikely, given that La Repubblica publishes articles on him on a daily basis that if erroneous, should be corrected immediately. I know if someone were publishing daily articles that represented me in a false light, I would issue some form of a statement offering a correction. Additionally, I wouldn’t continually do interviews with journalists who “don’t get my side of the story straight.” These interviews are sent to Pope Francis for approval before La Repubblica publishes them, and Pope Francis reads them when they are printed. These interviews are then posted on the Vatican website.
Three, what we are reading is the truth, and he is fine with that. This third option is likely the real reason why there has not been any clarification given by the Holy Father. What we are reading and seeing is what is happening, and is not the fault of the media, the translators, the Pope’s caretakers or anyone else but the Pope himself.
With the growing amount of criticism with regards to the heresies issued within Amoris Laetitia and Pope Francis ignoring the Dubia given by Cardinal Burke and three other Cardinals, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Pope Francis is content with the confusion being caused by his statements. His right-hand men have spent their time attacking these holy cardinals and question their faith, implying that they should be stripped of their hats (why these men have hats is beyond me).
In hindsight, when Pope Francis told those present at World Youth Day in Rio in 2013 to “make a mess,” he wasn’t speaking to the faithful, but rather, to the unfaithful. And that is precisely what Pope Francis has made in these four years, a mess.