Friday, 4 October 2013

Antonio Spadaro on the Papal Interview

This is a full transcript of my interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, regarding the papal interview. Questions on his work on "cybertheology" are here. The Portuguese, published version of the interview can be found here.

Esta é uma transcrição integral, no inglês original, da minha entrevista com o Pe. Antonio Spadaro SJ, relativa à entrevista papal. A secção relativa ao seu trabalho na área de "ciberteologia" está noutro post. A versão portuguesa, publicada, encontra-se aqui.

It has been about two weeks since your interview with the Pope was published, all over the world. Looking back, what do you make of the fallout of this interview?
For me this interview wasn’t an interview, it was a spiritual experience. It is very hard for me to talk about this. I know that the Pope was very straightforward. He tries not to defend himself, but to speak very openly. So he can be misunderstood, of course, but at the same time I got more than one thousand messages from people who’se life changed after reading the interview. For me it was a huge spiritual experience even to read the feedback. Feedback from ordinary people. I think the ordinary people understood the Pope well and that the interview had a very good impact on their spirituality, even for people who are not living in the church, or who had left the church many years ago. I received one message from somebody who said that if he had read the interview he would never have left the Church.

Many people felt uncomfortable with the Pope’s key quote about how the Church cannot speak only about contraception, gay marriage and abortion. People who dedicate their lives to these issues, in a loving way, and felt disheartened by what the Pope said. What would you say to them?
For the Pope the very important thing is to spread the Gospel and to talk about the big heart of God. The Gospel has to reach everyone, it doesn’t matter if the people are sinners, or whatever. This is what he means. He is a son of the Church, he said that, so he believes what is in the catechism. But for him it is very important that the Gospel should reach people wherever they are.

This interview went back and forth, I understand that it was approved by the Vatican…
We read the text of the interview together with the Pope, yes.

Yet there were parts left in it which were easy to misinterpret. I am thinking of what the Pope says about not being a right-winger… you later clarified that he was actually talking about support of the military junta in Argentina. Wasn’t it obvious that this could cause confusion? Shouldn’t it have been detected and clarified at the outset?
No, I don’t think so. An interview is not a Church document, so you have to be very careful reading it. It is up to you, in a sense. It is not a document; it has not been revised word for word. It is heart to heart communication, it is completely different.

You have to understand how this Pope likes to communicate; it is a completely different way. We don’t need to clarify anything. I sent the tweet about understanding the right wing expression, because we need to understand that the Pope speaks about experience. He doesn’t usually speak of concepts and abstractions, he speaks about experience, so you have to connect what he says to his own experience. I am not the interpreter of the Pope.

He said what he said, I wrote what he said. But you have to be careful, we have to change our mind, the old categories of the vaticanists are useless. Now the Pope is acting like a Human Being and he is talking by heart, what he says comes from his own experience, you have to be careful reading it.

You have to make an effort to understand what he says, considering his living experience. You cannot interpret his sentences as theoretical, as abstract from reality.

In the interview he speaks also about nurses and physicians, he says he doesn’t like physicians who only work in laboratories, he likes nurses, and a nurse saved his life. But of course he didn’t mean he doesn’t like physicians. He said that because that was his own experience. So you can’t say he is not right wing in an abstract sense and meaning. He lived in a time when Argentina was a dictatorship, so when he speaks about right wing he is referring to his experience and to what right wing means in his experience.

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