Everyone is talking about the Big Interview that Pope Francis gave last week. Catholic blogs are abuzz. My news feed on The Facebook is full of a mix of inspiring quotes and frustrations with the media response. On that last point, it’s helpful to look at what Pope Francis really said. Therefore, we present for your viewing pleasure, a graphical comparison of the Real Pope Francis vs. the Media Pope Francis.
If you only read the media “summary” (or caricature more accurately) of Pope Francis’ remarks, you’d think the Catholic Church was “obsessed” with gay marriage and abortion. The word cloud here was generated from news reports on the first page of Google News results for the 24 hours immediately following the Big Interview. Sources include: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Guardian, Slate, and The Huffington Post.
It turns out, that’s not really the case at all. As Pope Francis was at pains to point out, the Catholic Church is and should be concerned first and above all with the relationship between God and all of humanity and, in the context of evangelization, between the Church and non-believers. Ours is a living faith of people seeking the truth and ultimate reunion with our Creator on the Last Day, not merely some set of rules. Here’s the word cloud for Pope Francis’ actual remarks.
If you’re not into pretty pictures, here’s the hard numbers on word frequency.
We do not believe in a Catholic God who only cares about what Catholics do. We believe in the one true God who is the sublime creator and ruler of the entire Universe. The teachings of the Church on morality are important and we discuss them here at CatholicVote often, but when Pope Francis gives an interview like this he is speaking to a global audience as the Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Not everone who will read Pope Francis’ interview even agrees that there is a God at all.
The media do a great disservice to their readers by misrepresenting Pope Francis–in essence creating a virtual Anti-Pope who rules over a bizarre Catholic Church from some alternate dimension. However, we should hope and pray that by running attention-grabbing headlines–no matter how deceptive–the media will unwittingly draw unbelievers and dissenters to dig a little deeper into what Pope Francis actually said where they will encounter the awesome and wonderful beauty and richness of the true Christian faith, not the media caricature of it.