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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Sept. 05, 2019
In the latest effort to explain away an unguarded utterance by Pope Francis, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters how they should interpret the papal remark that “it’s an honor that Americans attack me.”
In an informal context, the Pope wanted to say that he always considers criticisms an honor, particularly when they come from authoritative thinkers and, in this case, an important nation.
OK, the context was informal. The Pope was not speaking at a press conference. He was making a personal response to an author who had presented him with a book. There just happened to be a few dozen reporters within earshot, so the Pope’s comment couldn’t be denied. (Recall that when Pope Francis reportedly denied the existence of hell, the Vatican said the quotation could not “be considered a faithful transcription” and left it at that.)
But let’s take a closer look at that “informal context.” The Pope had been presented with a copy of How American Wants to Change the Pope, in which author Nicolas Seneze argues that a powerful coalition of conservative American political interests is working against the Pontiff. The Pope expresses a keen interest in the book, and in another offhand remark as he passed the book to an aide, described it as “a bomb.” ….