Pope Francis's Daily Homilies

A lot of interest has been shown in Pope Francis's daily homilies in St. Martha's Residence, from persons and media sources critical of the things he says, and from persons and media sources pleased by them. Both sides seem to treat these homilies as though they were acts of the papal Magisterium. In matter of fact, they may not be that at all, given the limited audience and the fact that they are not published, which makes it hard to see any serious intention in the pope to speak as teacher of the universal Church.

This view is supported by a statement made on May 29 (yesterday) by Vatican speaker P. Lombardi: The Pope's Homilies in St. Martha's Residence: P. Lombardi's Notes in Response to Questions (Italian text)

He begins by noting the very great interest raised by the pope's brief homilies in the context of the morning Masses he celebrates in Casa Santa Marta, and the question asked by many about the possibility of accessing the complete celebration or homily, rather than only through the summaries published each day by the Vatican Radio and the Osservatore Romano.

He notes that the question is understandable, has been thoroughly considered, and deserves a clear response. Above all, [what follows is a translation of P. Lombardi's words]: "it is necessary to take into account the character the the Holy Father himself attributes to the morning celebration in St. Martha's residence. It is a matter of a Mass celebrated with a group of faithful that is not small (generally more than fifty persons), but for whom the Pope intends to preserve a familial character. For this reason, despite the requests that have been made, he has explicitly desired that the Mass not be broadcast live by video or audio.

As regards the homilies, they are not spoken on the basis of a written text, but spontaneously, in Italian, a language which the Pope knows well, but which is not his mother tongue. A "integral" publication would have to be therefore a transcription and a rewriting of the text at various points, given that the written form is different from the oral, which in this case is the original form chosen intentionally by the Holy Father. In short, there would be a revision by the Holy Father himself, but the result would be clearly "a different thing," not that which the Holy Father intends to do every morning.

After careful consideration it is therefore considered that the best way to make the richness of the Pope's homilies it accessible to a wide audience without altering its nature is to publish a detailed summary, also rich with quotes of original sentences, which reflect the genuine taste of the Pope's expressions….

It is necessary to insist on the fact that, in the entirety of the Pope's activity, one must carefully preserve the distinction between the various situations and celebrations, as well as the different level of commitment of his pronouncements. Thus, on the occasion of the public celebrations or activities of the Pope, broadcast live on television and radio, the homilies or speeches are transcribed and published in full. On the occasion of more familiar and private celebrations it is necessary to respect the specific character of the situation, of the spontaneity and the familiarity of the expressions of the Holy Father. The chosen solution thus respects above all the will of the Pope and of the nature of the morning celebration, and at the same time permits a broad public to access the principal messages that the Holy Father gives to the faithful even in such circumstances."