Pope on interviews: Church must listen, respond to people's questions

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Replying to questions and giving
interviews are a “pastoral risk” Pope Francis said he is prepared to
take, because it is the best way to know and respond to people’s real concerns.

“I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I
want to take,” the pope wrote in the introduction to a new book collecting
transcripts of question-and-answer sessions he has held all over the world.

The collection in Italian, “Adesso Fate le Vostre Domande” (“Now,
Ask Your Questions”), was edited by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and scheduled
for release Oct. 19. The pope’s introduction was published Oct. 17 in the
Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“I want a church that knows how to enter into people’s
conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote.

The model is the Gospel account of the risen Lord’s meeting
with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “The Lord ‘interviews’ the
disciples who are walking discouraged,” he said. “For me, the
interview is part of this conversation the church is having with men and women

The interviews and Q&A sessions “always have a
pastoral value,” Pope Francis said, and are an important part of his
ministry, just like inviting a small group of people to his early morning Mass
each day.

The chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives,
“is, let’s say, my parish. I need that communication with people.”

And, in interviews, the journalists often ask the questions
that are on the minds of the faithful, he said.

The most regular appointment he has for responding to
questions is on the flights back to Rome from his foreign trips when he holds a
news conference with the journalists who travel with him.

“There, too, on those trips, I like to look people in
the eye and respond to their questions sincerely,” he wrote. “I know
that I have to be prudent, and I hope I am. I always pray to the Holy Spirit
before I start listening to the questions and responding.”

His favorite interviews, he said, are with small,
neighborhood newspapers and magazines. “There I feel even more at
ease,” the pope said. “In fact, in those cases I really am listening
to the questions and concerns of common people. I try to respond spontaneously,
in a conversation I hope is understandable, and not with rigid formulas.”

“For me,” he said, “interviews are a
dialogue, not a lesson.”

Even when the questions are submitted in advance, the pope
said he does not prepare his answers. Watching the person ask the question and
responding directly is important.

“Yes, I am afraid of being misinterpreted,” he
said. “But, I repeat, I want to run this pastoral risk.”

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