Monday, September 30, 2013
Roberto de Mattei: "I Have Strong Reservations About the Communication Strategy of Pope Francis"
(Rome) Since the extensive interview with Pope Francis by the Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, new confusion reigns in the Catholic camp. While the mass media cheer and celebrate Pope Francis as "revolutionary", some Catholics defended the Pope with the formula, that the mass media is attempting to misunderstand Francis consciously and intentionally twisting his remarks, because the Pope did not alter the Catholic doctrine, while he only has his own very special style. Pope Francis did not speak as an academic, but as a preacher to the people, as the U.S. Catholic writer George Weigel has said. Another part of the Catholics observed the way the world communicates with Pope Francis with increasing concern. Not least because of the applause from the wrong side.
There are doubts about the usefulness of a form of communication expressed, which is obviously prone to misunderstandings. What's more, some have doubts whether it is the Pope just communicating a new form with the people that is controversial, or even to changes in content. It's not an open break with parts of doctrine, but perhaps an indirect softening by ambiguity. Officially, nothing would be changed, but in practice in the minds of the people very much. Just as, say some critics, is already the case, like the "hot buttons", such as abortion and homosexuality. The Pope emphasizes that the teaching of the Church is to be clearly defined, but they do not speak out, or at least among the general public, but only in certain circles.
This happened about abortion, which is a matter of life or death. In the Civiltà Cattolica interview which went around the world, the Pope used a painful diction that was "hurtful" even for Pro-Lifers, like the American, Catholic philosopher, Michael Novak complained. During the interview, the Pope declared that he will not say too much about it in the future and thus the abortion advocates could rejoice, yet he was found the next day in front of the Catholic doctors giving very clear words for the protection of life. Words, however, were only made known in Catholic circles.
The famous Catholic historian, Roberto de Mattei criticized the communication of Pope Francis in an interview for Fomiche.net by Francesco de Palo.
The press has exploited, but the Pope has helped them: This is the opinion of the traditional Roberto de Mattei, professor of modern history and Christianity at the European University of Rome until 2011 and Vice Chairman of the National Research Council of the Republic of Italy. De Mattei is the publisher and editor of the monthly magazine Radici Cristiane, Nova Historia and the Catholic Information Service Corrispondenza Romana. In an interview with Formiche.net he analyzed the first semester of the new pontificate, and expresses strong reservations about the communication strategy of Pope Francis.
How does a 'Catholic without compromise', as you call yourself, survive the public statements of Pope Francis about homosexuals and divorced?
My opinion is that there is significant exploitation of the words of the Pope, in the sense that I do not see these large openings. At least from the perspective of doctrine, also because Pope Francis himself has stressed that his attitude in these subjects did not differ from that of the catechism.
How do you parse Berglio's manifesto similar interview in Cività Cattolica?
Just because the Pope stressed that he stood with regard to the doctrine of faith in the continuity of the Church's teaching, and intended no doctrinal innovations, is the level to which he goes with this interview, pastoral or strategic in nature. That is, what he is proposing is not a new doctrine, but a new way to approach these problems.
What kind of repercussions?
Since Bergoglio has to go according to his own words, from the level of doctrine to those of the communication strategy, it is lawful for every Catholic to discuss this approach. And viewed from this perspective, it is in my opinion an unfortunate approach, because it makes the exploitation of his words possible. But this is not solely responsible for this manipulation by the press, if we like, it's doing its job, but also who makes it possible with a language that is completely ambiguous in some points.
What is the result of this new language?
I think that it can be very dangerous, because the world of communication is not controlled by the Pope, and even less of Catholics, but of lobbies and powers antagonistic to the Church that are capable of distorting its use. Personally, I have strong reservations about the communication strategy of the Pope.
Is Giuliano Ferrara's the daily newspaper Il Foglio justified in its assertion that non-negotiable principles are more of a dead letter now?
That seems excessive. These are principles that can experience moments of blackout due to their nature. It seems to me that the Pope has said, without denying them, that he prefers other points in his communication because he, in his own words, is starting from the premise that the right to life and family are already well-known principles. The real problem is that the positions of the Church to the general public are simply not known, and there is also great confusion in the Catholic world. The only two popes who opposed this were John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Bergoglio, although he doctrinally presents with his predecessors in continuity seems to want to express a strategic discontinuity.
How do you assess this decision?
I prefer the previous communication strategy, but of course the time will tell and you will see that the tree bears fruit. I hope that the consequences of this approach will not be destructive.
And the letter from Ratzinger Odifreddi is a way to set the milestones?
It is a letter that has already in my opinion made more of the already reigning confusion, because although he is representing clear principles, it conveys the impression that it could be at the level of a private Magisterium, two phases that intervene at the same time on the same stage [Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.], in this particular case in the newspaper La Repubblica. I have had many thoughts that Benedict XVI. wanted to withdraw completely from public life, to lead a life of prayer and silence. By this I do not mean to say that he has done something wrong, because his criticism of Odifreddi are precise and to the point. So I do not question the content in question, but have doubts about whether it was opportune.
Do you think that now the reform of the Curia will come?
It has not started yet. So we wait before we judge. For now, there were normal operations, but no sign of reform. In October, the Pope will meet with the group of cardinals, to whom he entrusted the task to submit proposals. We will see in the coming months and assess.
Introduction / Translation: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Formiche.net