By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
The Editorial Director of Vatican News, Andrea Tornielli, is travelling with Pope Francis in Panama. On Thursday, he was present at the Pope’s meeting with the Bishops of Central America and found the Holy Father’s unscripted remarks to the Bishops regarding “a lack of compassion…even in Catholic media”, particularly thought-provoking.
Pope Francis was referring to a much broader issue: “the centrality of compassion” with regard to evangelization. The timing of the Pope’s comments, however, was important: Thursday was the Feast of St Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of journalists.
“The compassion of Christ has lost a central place in the Church”, Pope Francis told the Bishops. Then, going beyond his prepared remarks, the Pope added: “even in Catholic media there is a lack of compassion”.
In an editorial published on the Vatican News website, Andrea Tornielli describes the Pope’s words as “a photograph which, unfortunately, is plain for all to see: the spread, even among media that claims to be Catholic, of wanting to judge everyone and everything”.
In an interview with Vatican News, Tornielli elaborates further on why he believes Pope Francis made these comments in the first place:
“He was speaking about the lack of compassion in the Church as well, and he focused his attention on the media because we have some Catholic media that judge people, they don’t use mercy, they don’t use compassion. This is a problem because the attitude of Jesus is totally different: His is to be near to people with compassion and mercy”.
“The problem is not about criticizing the Pope”, continues Tornielli. “The problem is about criticizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you. It’s a different attitude: you are judging the world from your position, especially your brothers and sisters in faith. This is a typical attitude of our time and is one where the social media system plays an important role”.
The solution, says the Editorial Director of Vatican News, is for everyone to do their job the best way they can. The answer, he concludes, is “professional journalism”.