Pope Francis: Put-Down Artist?

April 2014

DONATE TODAY!: Join the NOR Associates

From the moment Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped out onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and asked the world to “pray for me,” a persistent theme has resounded in the mainstream media. Pope Francis, as the popular narrative would have it, has singlehandedly set a “new tone” for the Church after decades, if not centuries — or millennia! — of crankiness and stagnation. Consider these headlines:
- “Francis’ humility and emphasis on the poor strike a new tone at the Vatican” (New York Times, May 25, 2013)
- “Pope Francis changes the Church’s tone on gays and women” (The Examiner, July 30, 2013)
- “Pope Francis’ focus on mercy sets new tone for Roman Catholic Church” (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 29, 2013)
- “Pope softening tone, not stance, O’Malley says” (Boston Globe, Feb. 9, 2014)
Astute Catholics know that Francis’s emphasis on the poor and the need for mercy is nothing new — these are perennial Christian themes. But it seems that this is the first time the modern media has made note of a pontiff hitting on these points. And it’s led to a severe case of journalistic “diarrhea of the pen.”

Hear, for instance, Nancy Gibbs, Time magazine’s managing editor. She explained the magazine’s rationale for naming Francis “Person of the Year” for 2013 thus: “He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.” David Wiley of the BBC said, rather expansively, that Francis “has struck an unusual new tone at all levels of communication” (July 29, 2013; italics added). Francis has been praised by The New York Times for “transforming perceptions” with his laid-back approach, for “lifting morale” and “bringing a new sense of enthusiasm” to Catholics. He’s even been credited with increasing tourist traffic at the Vatican!

You have two options:

  1. Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
  2. Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.

If you're already a subscriber log-in here.

New Oxford Notes: April 2014

Read our posting policy Add a comment
Whence cometh the punchline? I am surprised that NOR left these notes so unfinished. This is serious, because for the first time those who are faithful without applause, hoping for orthodoxy within the main mystical body of Holy Church, are being pushed into the corner, termed by our own pope really as lefebvreists and and sedevacantists. Just being faithful to Catholic teaching, like Fr John Hardon sj was, or Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Such is the words and deeds of an antipope. There, I said it! Posted by: shanemattison
May 22, 2015 09:41 AM EDT
Wow, He was referring to Traditionalist as sourpusses. Who knew. Frankly, If it is irritating that I like a reverent mass, Pope Francis will just have to get used to it. I'm not changing.
Posted by: altgraubart
April 08, 2014 12:39 PM EDT
"Effectiveness" is an important word here. Christ was insulting the Jewish hierarchy (many of) whom would eventually arrange his crucifixion. He was setting Himself apart from them. Is that what Pope Francis seeks to do here? Does he see the laity as his enemy, "Christians" who get in his way of evangelizing? Is he anticipating some crisis where he has to drive the moneychangers out of the Church?

I am not sure what the object of his efforts are when his methods are so "vernacular". These are methods used by enemies of the Church who love to ridicule our "rigidity" and slavish acts of piety.

Don't we Catholics get enough insults from the world at large? Must we get them also from our Pope?
Posted by: Rosemary6
April 22, 2014 06:56 PM EDT
Add a comment