Beyond a broad media consensus that wants to see Pope Francis credited for a successful World Youth Day (WYD), the event that ended in Lisbon on August 6, 2023, was the opportunity for wide ranging remarks by a pope who intends to complete his pontificate’s program without too much delay.
How far away, in Rome, the time when the corridors of the apostolic palaces are no longer filled with the familiar rustling of prelate cassocks during the long summer months when the Sovereign Pontiff spends time in his residence at Castel Gandolfo. Because now, the news of the Holy See resembles a chain of continuous information, to the chagrin of the Vaticanists who have given up taking extended vacations.
For the first week of August 2023 alone, Pope Francis's communication was not idle. His remarks included WYD press conferences on the plane that carried him to and brought him back from Lisbon and an exclusive interview with the Spanish-language Catholic magazine Vida Nueva. The various comments show that the successor of Peter is pressing the accelerator on what will be the last stage of his pontificate.
On several occasions during his lightning visit to Fatima, or during a speech to young people in particular, Pope Francis completely departed from the speech usually released in advance to journalists. Here again, the correspondents of the major media had to adapt.
Responding to questions from the press on the plane that brought him back from Lisbon regarding possible health problems that would explain his moments of improvisation, the Holy Father replied that “his health [was] good” and that he had in fact adapted to his audience, because “young people don't have a long attention span,” but also because the reflection of certain projectors “hindered” his ability to read the prepared text.
Asked about his future visit to Marseille in September, to preside over a summit on the Mediterranean world, and not as part of a state visit to France, the pontiff explained: “I went to Strasbourg, I am going to Marseille, but not to France.… I have nothing against France, but my policy is to visit small European countries; the big countries like Spain, France, or England, I save them for later, at the end.”
For the Vaticanist John Allen, it is here that the most "revolutionary" dimension of the pontificate of Francis appears, which consists less in a favorable positioning with regard to progressive positions - positions that we hear in certain sectors of the Church since the 1960s, and outdated in more ways than one – than in an attempt to disassociate the Catholic Church, especially the Vatican, from the Western model.
The current Pope deems it necessary to change the paradigm, in other words to “think” the Church outside the framework of Western thought, to free it from itself in some way. Moreover, the host of St. Martha’s House considers that the demographic evolution of world Catholicism is proving him right.
“I am a pebble in the shoe for many,” said Pope Francis during one of his last summer speeches.