Pope Francis: reckless blabbermouth or sophisticated strategist?

(The Guardian) It’s a mistake to take too much notice of what the pope says. And funnily enough, he’d be the first to say so. By which I don’t mean that it won’t be worth listening when he makes the speech, announced this week, to the United Nations general assembly in September. Pope Francis is due to publish the Catholic church’s first encyclical on the environment in a couple of months, and he’ll draw on that to argue in New York for greater international commitments to curb greenhouse gases. He’ll probably call for the rich to do much more to help poor people around the world already blasted by the effects of climate change.

And the day before it will be well worth watching the seat-squirming that will take place when he becomes the first pope ever to address both Houses of Congress in Washington. Expect uncompromising denunciation of the idolatrous ideology of the free market which keeps the young jobless and dispenses with the old.

It’s the stuff in between you should treat with more scepticism. Take the interview he gave the other day to mark the second anniversary of his election. He had a feeling, he told Mexican television, that his pontificate would be brief, just two or three years more. Maybe he would resign, as his predecessor had. But the interview was full of other bar-room ramblings, about how he “didn’t mind” being pope. (He loves it). Or how he misses the anonymity of strolling into a pizzeria for a pizza. (They deliver.) Or his reaction to the criticism that he talks too much and too spontaneously: “I’ve always spoken that way. Always. For some it’s a defect, I don’t know. But I think the people understand me.” (They do indeed, even if they could not quite articulate his message and repeat it back to him.) [More]


The Guardian