Real Pope Francis vs. Media Pope Francis

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.

Media Pope Francis

Media Pope Francis

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.

Real Pope Francis

Real Pope Francis

If you’re not into pretty pictures, here’s the hard numbers on word frequency.

Word Frequency Comparison

Word Frequency Comparison

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.

  • Sharon

    Only men are priests because they are supposed to be a living image of Christ on earth, and when God took on human flesh, he chose to do so as a man. This does not mean that women are inferior, just different. The priest acts “in persona Christi” — “in the person of Christ” – when he speaks the words of consecration during the mass… “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood”. That body and blood had (and has) male chromosomes… it would not make sense for a woman to speak those words in the person of Christ. She is simply of a different gender.
    Christ himself freely chose the apostles who were the first priests, those to whom he said at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Those chosen ones were all male. Christ had many female followers, and those who stood with him at the foot of the cross were predominately women, but they were not chosen by him to be priests. No one has a right to be a priest — he is called and chosen by God. The priesthood is a gift to the church from God, and we bow to HIS choice.

    • J Mathew

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, Sharon. Thank you for the eloquent and truthful post!

  • alfred laperch

    Did the Pope really say I have never been a “Right winger . Does that imply that he is either a “Leftwinger or has no political opinions

  • Will

    I read about the interview on a few media sites and all of the articles I read mentioned that no Church laws or rules were being changed.

  • Mom in Texas

    What the media reported on is what fits their agenda. Precisely because it was a long interview they should have reported highlights of the entire interview, not just the hot button issues. They are obsessed with women priests but when the Pope speaks of the dignity of women it is ignored. Nor do they report his central point: the dignity of all human beings.

    • eric

      How is speaking about “women priests” not upholding “the dignity of women?” It seems to me that that’s exactly what it is.

      • May

        To think that speaking or wanting women priests is upholding the dignity of women implies that unless women can be priests they are not being thought of in a dignified manner. That kind of thought demeans women. The mentality that believes that only if men and women’s roles are the same means equality of the sexes is at the core of modern day feminism and is destructive to both men and women. Only when we embrace the fact that men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God BUT are different and the differences are to be celebrated and enjoyed will we be happy. This failure to acknowledge this is an insult to women and men alike. That is why speaking of women priests is an insult to the dignity of women.

        • eric

          So because men and women are different, women should not be allowed to be Priests? How does that make sense? What does a male Priest do that can not be done by a woman? How is a woman’s dignity negatively affected if she is allowed to be a Priest? Your logic seems illogical.

          • Thomas

            Jesus did not appoint any women as apostles, though he was not reluctant to break societal taboos about women. Consider the Samaritan woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. Nonetheless, women played an important role as supporters of Jesus ministry and Jesus determined that they should be the first to discover and announce to the apostles his resurrection. The early church did not adopt priestesses, although they were certainly not unknown in the Greek and Roman mystery religions of the time. Neither the Catholic nor Orthodox churches have ever had priestesses. Interestingly, much of the Anglican church has accepted priestesses — and also contraception and homosexuality.

          • Nigel


            First of all, it is always good to see that someone is putting so much thought into something that is highly important, regardless of which side you take. If I am correct, May was not necessarily explaining why women can’t be Catholic priests, but rather, was explaining why that shouldn’t be demeaning to women. This is often a question raised by non-Catholics because they fail to understand a few things (which is understandable), these being: 1. A priest is not the same as a pastor at a non-Catholic christian church. Because Jesus only instituted male apostles, the Catholic church believes that only men can be priests through apostolic succession. 2. There are roles that men can’t fill, yet they don’t have a problem with that. The problem is, non-Catholics and even poorly informed Catholics tend to hold a priest up as if he were a king, but rather, he is a servant to the people, the Church, just as Jesus was. It is certainly understandable how the question could be raised about women’s inability to be priests. However, a person who goes around and laments about this without making an attempt to truly understand the Catholic church’s reasoning, as outlined in the Catechism, is not only wasting his/her time, but also further spreading a misunderstanding that will lead to further discord in the interfaith dialogue. Know though, that the thoughts you express are valued and should never be dismissed lightly. This may or may not have been helpful.

        • J Mathew

          Thank you! Wonderfully said!

        • J Mathew

          Right on! Thank you!

  • Elinor Dandrea

    Only those whose hearts are aligned in service to Christ/God and devoted to imitating His goodness , will understand. For it is not a new message, its a renewal of what Christ Himself, asked us to be.



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