Taking stock of Pope Francis’s three recent headline-grabbing interviews, William L. Portier argues that the new pontiff is pioneering “a new genre of papal pronouncement, minimally authoritative, but unprecedented in its reach”:
Long before his election, Pope Francis urged his people in Buenos Aires not to focus on the internal life of the church but to take the church out into the streets. In response to a journalist on the flight back from Brazil, he described himself as “a street priest” who feels somewhat “caged” in the Vatican. With the papal news media interview, Pope Francis has found a way to pop the bubble that seemed to isolate his predecessor during his last days in office. He has, in a real sense, made it back to the streets. This new genre of papal pronouncement dodges grasping handlers and bureaucrats who would brand the pope restrictively, frustrate his wishes, and control his access. Pope Francis is now an anticipated part of the news cycle. The papal news media interview takes him directly to the people, all the people.