Pope Francis: ‘If You Say Something I Do Not Like, I Have to Listen Even More’

Pope Francis delivers his speech during his audience for members of the International Pilgrimage of the Ministrants at St Peter's Square on July 31, 2018 in Vatican City. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Pope Francis told young people Wednesday that their critical ideas have a right to be heard and respected in a curious departure from recent statements that accusers are Satanic.

Laypeople in the Church must have “courage in speaking,” the pope told his audience in his opening remarks for the Vatican synod on young people.

“If you say something I do not like, I have to listen even more, because everyone has the right to be heard, just as everyone has the right to speak,” he said.

The pope underscored that speaking freely, listening, and responding in an open dialogue is essential for the Church and for the synod that is now taking place.

“The first fruit of this dialogue is that everyone is open to newness, to change their opinions thanks to what they have heard from others,” he added.

Unfortunately, the pope’s message in practice has often seemed to be: “Respond only when you like what you hear.”

In 2016, four Catholic cardinals famously wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to clarify five serious doctrinal doubts (“dubia”) proceeding from his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), and yet the pope chose not to respond to the cardinals’ questions, despite the fact that the cardinals insisted that their questions were posed in good faith.

This past August, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released a report declaring that in 2013 he had personally informed Pope Francis about the serial homosexual abuse of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and yet the pope had chosen to ignore McCarrick’s crimes and reinstate him to a position of influence in the Vatican.

The pope opted not to answer the allegations and when pressed by journalists to either confirm or deny the report, the pontiff refused to do so.

Rather than respond to the archbishop’s allegations, the pope compared him to Satan, while painting himself as the victim of a ruthless attack.

If Francis truly believes that when someone says something he does not like he has “to listen even more, because everyone has the right to be heard, just as everyone has the right to speak,” he has an excellent opportunity to prove it.

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