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In new interview, Pope explains synodality, condemns media disinformation

December 07, 2016

Pope Francis explained his understanding of the “synodal Church,” and issued a strongly worded condemnation of defamation and disinformation in the media, in a new interview with the Belgian journal Tertio.

In a wide-ranging conversation, the Pope spoke about secularism, warfare, fundamentalism, the Year of Mercy, Amoris Laetitia, and the mass media. He said that a characteristic problem of our age is hardening of the heart: “cardiosclerosis,” he called it.

In answer to a question about synodality, the Pope explained that the role of the Roman Pontiff is to “listen to the churches, harmonize them, discerns.” He contrasts the role of the Synod with the vision of a “pyramidal Church, in what Peters says is done.” In the synodal Church, he said, the Pope “accompanies the Church; he lets her grow, he listens to her, he learns from this reality.” Pope Francis cited the experience of the Synod on the Family, and noted that in Amoris Laetitia he set forth propositions that had been approved by more than two-thirds of the bishops participating in the sessions. “And this is a guarantee,” he said, of the integrity of the teaching.

Speaking later about the communications media, the Pope stressed the danger of concentrating on negative stories, and especially the temptation to smear public figures. “They can be tempted to calumny, and therefore used to slander, especially in the world of politics,” he said. He warned against “the sicknes of coprophilia, which is always wanting to communicate scandal.”

Pope Francis said that the urge to separate religion from public life reflects “an old-fashioned mindset,” which is “the legacy that the Enlightenment has left to us.” He said that “a secular state is a good thing; it is better than a confessional state, because confessional states finish badly.” But when a government shuts off any opening to the transcendent, he continued, it “cuts down the human person.”


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: susana8577 - Dec. 10, 2016 1:42 PM ET USA

    I'm confused. Isn't a society which "separate[s] religion from public life" a secular state?

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Dec. 08, 2016 3:53 PM ET USA

    "'A secular state is a good thing; it is better than a confessional state, because confessional states finish badly.'" He must have only the larger states in mind. At least 3 modern states are confessional, and they have yet to "finish badly:" Lichtenstein, Malta, and Andorra. Catholicism is the state religion in Lichtenstein and Malta. The Catholic Bishop of Urgell serves as Co-Prince of Andorra. I see no reason why a secular is to be preferred over a modern confessional form of government.

  • Posted by: lak321 - Dec. 07, 2016 10:20 PM ET USA

    I am still confused, as I read elsewhere that Amoris Laetitia is NOT in accord with the 2/3 vote. Which is it?