When you want to know what the Pope didn’t say

There is one thing the media is quite useful for regarding coverage of the Catholic Church. If I want to know what the Pope hasn’t said then they are my go to source.

The latest media coverage led to outrage from Protestants and Catholics suspicious of this pope along with more liberal elements being delighted. The media meme of the week is that Pope Francis said that atheists could be saved purely by good works.

As usual Jimmy Akin cuts through the errors regarding this with his thoughtful analysis.

Still this episode does illustrate a problem.

Pope Francis is in the habit of saying daily Mass for the people at St. Martha’s House and invited guests, and when he does so he gives an off-the-cuff homily (rather than reading from a prepared text).

This is actually something new.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI did not do this. They did not celebrate daily Mass as publicly as Pope Francis, and they did not have daily homilies published in this way. Instead, they occasionally delivered prepared homilies at public Masses on special occasions, and only these were published. As a result, if you look at the Vatican web site, there are surprisingly few homilies listed in their sections!

As a result, the Vatican web people aren’t scaled up for this volume of homilies, and–MADDENINGLY–you can’t find complete texts of Pope Francis’s daily ones on the site.

This is a problems considering also that there has been multiple instances where part of the content of the Pope’s unpublished daily homilies have generated news stories. Not only can’t you find them on the Vatican’s site, you can only find fragments quoted by sources covering the Pope and the Vatican.

These extemporaneous homilies certainly create a difficulty for the Vatican regarding both capturing exactly what was said and providing timely translations. They seem to have a hard enough time providing timely translations of his official homilies and speeches, especially the General Audience. Although this is more of a problem for those like myself who want to read what the Pope actually said then for the media. The media in covering the Church is not interested in context anyway and even with full texts almost infallibly gets things wrong.


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Jeffrey Miller (790 Posts)

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