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.

  • Dennis

    The Pope pointed out that is a lot more to the Catholic Church than the Abortion Issue and Gay Marriage issue. In the eyes of the church these are issues but very small ones compared to our relationship to God in all fascist of life. People need to know why we believe the things the church teaches rather than look at the Church as a group creating just creating impossible rules for us to blindly follow.

  • Bill

    Although I agree with this article and I share the same lack of concern over Pope Francis’ Catholicity(the “is the Pope Catholic” line comes to mind) I am not naive in believing that the media will ever report anything in context. His Holiness’ main point for me is that if we don’t develop that personal love and knowledge of who Jesus truly is, all the dogma and doctrine is just words.

  • mary kay laird

    The media does portray the Pope as a good guy but for those whi are uninformed or only read certain publications, they would be lead to believe that he supports gay marriage. This isn’t what is being sad at all but those who look no further now beleive that he does and its OK. This is the problem. WHat I think is most remarkable about the Pop is that he loves all people of all religions with all propensities for sin….as we all should. Just because I love my fellow brothers and sisters however doesn’t mean I have to agree with them or turn my back on what I know to be true. That is false compassion. In the end, only God can judge. So in the meantime, I will continue to love my neighbors and hold fast to the things I know are true.

  • http://CityofSanJose Jose Salcido

    It is time for all Catholics to take the Pope’s words personally and start living our faith by evangelizing everyday. To quote St Teresa, we must do small things with great love. All of us run into opportunities to talk about our faith,but as Catholics we don’t want to seem pushy so we dance around the issues. That’s ok, as long as we’re dancing. Remember “whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name, I am there,” what a beautiful reminder of how to bring Christ into our lives, often. God Bless!!!

  • BeItDone

    “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said. “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” —– Please note – he did not change these teachings but merely emphasized that we are a Church and not a PAC who has only 3 issues to engage the world with and to dialogue about. Christ came for the salvation of the world not to found a political party to the left or the right or at all…

  • Scott Roderick

    This is truly one of the greatest popes of recent ages. Thanks be to God.



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