Monday, March 18, 2013


MY COMMENT FIRST: Our new Holy Father, Pope Francis has spoken twice now about the devil. Isn't the devil the prince of disinformation? Our new Holy Father is going to be the pope of the people and seems to be an extrovert by nature whereas Benedict is an introvert who has to work at being outgoing. Italians and the rest of the world and the media prefer the outgoing style and this will help the Holy Father in the new evangelization. I see the importance of this given our celebrity culture; but make no mistake, the pope's message is far from that of silly celebrities. So far I see the new pope pointing to Christ, not himself.

Dr. Robert Moynihan wrote the following, the last part on disinformation:

Interestingly, Pope Francis has called on the Franciscan friars of Mt. Alverna in central Italy -- where St. Francis received the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, in the year 1224 A.D., two years before his death (he was the first reported case of the stigmata in history) an event which led St. Bonaventure, writing in about 1260 A.D., to describe St. Francis as "the Angel of the 6th seal" spoken of by John in the Book of the Apocalypse -- to be present as assistants and servers at the Mass.

This clearly is intended to put an exclamation point on the "Franciscan" nature of this pontificate, which began with the Pope's choice of the name "Francis," never chosen before.

About 14 of the friars will take part in the ceremony, which will mark the official beginning of Francis' pontificate.

These Franciscan servers will remain under the direction of Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Papal Ceremonies who was so much respected and appreciated by Emeritus Pope Benedict.

Information or Disinformation

There have been many false rumors in the Italian press, and elsewhere, regarding the new Pope's views, and plans, including reports that Pope Francis had decided to set Marini aside and entrust the Tuesday Mass of Installation only to the Franciscans. This is not true. However, the number of these false reports, circulating very quickly around the internet, at a time when many journalists are writing under tight deadlines, so, under pressure while weary, as they try to provide as much "new" information to readers as possible, means that in these days special care must be taken in assessing what one reads, in seeing whether it is sourced, and, if it is sourced, in assessing the motives and reliability of that source.

On several occasions recently, I have tracked bits of "news" that turn our to be complete inventions, just simply "made up." For example, Pope Francis met Cardinal Bernard Law on the morning of March 14, on his unexpected visit to St. Mary Major (this was true, Francis did meet Law); but internet reports, which made it into some papers, said Francis had taken the occasion to ask Law not to set foot again in the basilica (this was not true, it was made up).

In such cases, it works like this: a British tabloid (for example) cites "Italian press reports," giving a website or newspaper name; at that particular website, one finds the information, but it is sourced to a blog; at the blog, the news in question can be found -- but it is simply in a comment posted by a reader, without any attribution whatsoever. So one has no way of knowing whether this is "information" or "disinformation." In other words, the trail runs dry. It is a "dead end."

And yet, some information based on such unreliable sources is picked up, circulated, and even gets into print.

So, it is necessary to double-check things, actually speak with real people to confirm that what they are said to have said is really what they did say, and so forth. In short, it is necessary, at least on some matters, to engage in real journalism, and to arrive, eventually, as close to the truth as possible.

So, readers, be warned: some things, perhaps even many things, being reported on the web are simply not true, but only disinformation.


qwikness said...

This was a good article in the Wall Street Journal explaining some of the smear being from the Argentinian government and endorsed newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis an extrovert?? Go to Youtube and compare the elections of Francis and Benedict. Benedict is all smiles and waving and joyful. Francis is stiff and motionless as a cardboard cutout and looks like a deer in headlights.

rcg said...

Gee. The Italian press is usually so accurate.

WSquared said...

By the way, I did see the Holy Father's papal Mass at St. Anna's parish. I also heard his first Angelus.

I don't think there is anything to freak out over. It was all simple and reverent. One thing I am not sensing from Pope Francis is any idea that humble equals hokey (which is probably the other side of the coin where ornate does not equal decadent, either). Regarding the Angelus, the address itself was in Italian, but the Angelus was prayed in Latin, as was the apostolic blessing. Sure, I miss the way Benedict would chant that blessing in a voice that was humble and yet confident, but perhaps our current Holy Father can't chant, and knows it. And so what? I'm just glad that the Angelus prayer and the blessing were in the mother tongue of Mother Church. That's the way it should be, especially given that I'm not sure Francis will give his addresses in several languages like Benedict did.

I'm not sure I agree with you, Father McDonald, that Italian should be the language of the liturgy, but I appreciate an Italian Mass all the same. I used to attend Mass in Italian pretty regularly at one time (I'm an Asian lass who came of age as a teen in an Italian neighborhood where immigrants from Italy were recent, and where people still spoke Italian). So Pope Francis's Mass brought back many fond memories, and his simple, but profound, homily reminds me of the Italian priest who married my husband and me-- no, our nuptial Mass was not in Italian, but our priest struck the same homiletic notes and chords in either Italian or English. And I think I do know what you mean by "relating to the laity in a very Italian way." I've grown up with Italian priests like that, and their Masses always had a sense of being "close to the people" without any sense that being "close to the people" means bringing Woodstock to the altar, whereby there is hardly any humility involved when anyone thinks that their perfect Church would consist only of people like themselves and the poor.

Anonymous, come on: any man who accepts the Petrine Office knows the weight on his shoulders. So I wouldn't exactly blame him for looking or feeling kinda scared. While a Pope should not be painfully timid or paralyzed by fear, I think we'd have more to worry about if we had a Pope who was not a bit afraid, and who promises us more than he can deliver (Pope Benedict XVI knew his limits, especially given the example of John Paul II, such that he told young pilgrims, "I can't be that Pope for you, but I will do my best!" I suspect that Pope Francis knows his limits, also). What would deeply trouble and irritate me, for example, would be if any Holy Father of ours conducted himself the way Barack Obama or many of our politicians do: a lot of that comes off as phony. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the introvert-extrovert thing, anyway. It only matters that our Holy Father is genuine, and Benedict and Francis just go about being genuine in different ways. People of good will do notice that. They did with Benedict, and they will with Francis.

rcg said...

Wsquared: Good point about being scared. It means he is sane and understands the enormity of the task.

Steven Surrency said...

This is the first time that I have written about my impression of Pope Francis's liturgical style. My thought are similar to yours, Father. He is not a liturgist. While, of course, he has thought much about the liturgy, he hasn't done so the way Benedict or other liturgical theologians have. He is simply celebrating the liturgy as he knows how. I have to say, if I went to a mass like the one we saw in the Sistine Chapel or the one we saw in Santa Anna, I would consider it a very "high church," very solemn mass. Sure, I like the program that Benedict was trying to advance. I agreed with almost every liturgical decision that he made. I wish his program had gone further. But Francis, I think, is not really trying to advance a liturgical program at all. He is trying to do mass as he always has (which, it seems to me, is reverent and according to the norms). While I am sure Monsignor Marini is losing some sleep over the differences in style and emphasis, I still think that the papal masses we have seen thus far under Francis have been great examples of reverently, faithfully celebrated liturgies. I know he can't sing. I know he can't genuflect. But those aren't required to be reverent or to be according to the norms (you can't make someone who can't genuflect genuflect). I don't think there is a program here. I don't think he is making small changes now so that he can make big changes later. I think he is a strong man who has already made the changes he wants to make. What we see is what we are going to get. And, the way I see it, what we are getting is not liturgically bad. It isn't what I would do if I were the pope, but it isn't bad. The Roman Liturgy: noble and simple. You can emphasize either side of the coin and still be Catholic.

Anonymous said...

This pope seems like a nice man and had said some very good things. However it seems like many Catholics and even the press are imposing a "persona" on this pope as a sort of template by which they are trying to define him. We want so badly to believe how great he is that we are over-interpreting every little gesture of his and giving them exaggerated importance.

I think we should step back and watch. Let him speak for himself and be himself.