15 October 2014

Pope Francis and your parish priest: A difference of perception

During his Wednesday Audience Address today, His Holiness Pope Francis asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square to repeat after him seven words (at least in the English translation):
This isn't the first time the Holy Father has done something like this with the crowds at the audiences or even at the Angelus addresses. Each time he does so, people - both in the Square and back in the USA - seem to think it is a great and pastoral idea.

It may well be, but can you imagine if your pastor asked the congregation to do the same on Sunday? If your pastor asked to repeat after him - three times - "We will be with the Lord forever" (or any other phrase from the Sacred Scriptures), how different would the response be?

I can already see the eyes rolling (I've concelebrated and attended Masses when priests have done this). In their own parishes people think such an approach is childish and condescending (and I tend to agree with this assessment), but when the Pope does it, it's fantastic. Why is there this difference?

I do not know.


  1. I can think of two possible factors: first, when the pope does it it's a novelty, while it can easily be overused in a parish setting. Second, not to be obvious, but the pope is the pope and the parish pastor is not. Which is to say that the papacy retains a certain mystique and, in the modern era, celebrity which covers a multitude of otherwise eye-rolling actions.

    1. I don't disagree with your two points, but, to my mind, neither of them make the reaction to the Pope employing this method reasonable. But maybe I'm thinking too much again.

  2. Celebrity cult pure and simple.

  3. Because the public has such open access to parish priests that interaction with him like this harkens back to kindergarten parochial school "chanting the answer".
    But access to the pope on a personal level is so limited- that any give and take is novel and exciting.