5 Tips for Talking About Pope Francis Without Being Ridiculed or Laughed At

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My friend looks at me, “Pope Francis is taking the Church in a new direction…things will change…and the bishops in Ireland are following his lead,” and I feel a tug on my heart.

During Francis’ first year in the chair of Peter, I heard these comments especially often. They popped up especially after headlines such as “Pope Francis says Catholics don’t need to breed ‘Like Rabbits’” and “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven” and “Pope says condoms OK to use in some cases”. These comments left me annoyed with the media, frustrated by my own inability to keep up with Francis, and disconnected from my friends.

The way we consume and discuss Francis’ papacy matters. As Pope Francis prepares to release his encyclical on the environment (more from EpicPew on that this week!) and speak before Congress later this fall, now marks a beautiful opportunity to reflect on the fruitful ways to observe and discuss his papacy. We spent an evening in my young adult group discussing how to digest his papacy and below are five tips that came out of that night:

 

1. Share the excitement

Papa rock star

Francis’ general role as Pope excites people. If his approach to something excites someone, allow them to feel excited. Now is not the time to explain how the Church will never budge on contraception or that the headline was a little misleading. Curiosity sparks excitement and we are called to share in this curiosity for the truth.

 

2. Show compassion

Pope Francis

Keep the Lord at the center of the conversation. Share with them the truth found in the Church when appropriate, but remember to show compassion for any bad experiences they may have had with the Church.

 

3. Agree that Francis is unique

C215, Roma Metro A Spagna, Papa Francesco

Remember when Francis got rid of the pope mobile? Allow Francis to live out his uniqueness and share this excitement with other people.  Every Pope is “unique” in some way and that’s the beauty of the Body of Christ.  One Body, many parts…One Spirit, many gifts.  As C. S. Lewis once said, “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints!”

 

4. Remember that miscommunication can happen

Paparazzi
This can occur on so many different levels! We may hear one thing from our friend when Pope Francis actually means something else. We could misinterpret the media or simply not understand the Church’s teaching making something occurring in Francis’ papacy seem shocking.  Or, as is often the case, those reporting in the media simply don’t have the background to place what the Pope says in the greater context.  Could you imagine how today’s media would have twisted Jesus’ teaching?!

 

5. Check your sources

Roman engraving inside the Musei Vaticani

Remember most Vatican documents and communications may not be released in English when first available to the public or sometimes the most available interpretation of the documents comes from an unreliable or hastily translated source. Even the famous Italian atheist admitted he didn’t take any notes when he interviewed Francis! Look for the official translation especially before sharing or posting to social media.  And when surprised by something the Pope may have said, also be sure to look at what else he said so that the quote appears in context.

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