Why we aren’t seeing the full texts of Francis’ morning homilies

I’ve seen lots of questions from various quarters about why the full texts of Pope Francis’ daily homilies—preached during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel—aren’t appearing online, on this blog or anywhere else. The answer is pretty simple—the Vatican isn’t releasing the transcripts of these daily homilies, delivered by the Holy Father in Italian and without notes. Instead we’ve received summaries of the homilies, usually including substantial quotes from Pope Francis as well as some context from the readings for the day.

Earlier today, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, gave an explanation for why the full texts of these homilies aren’t being released. From Catholic News Agency:

“We must insist on the fact that, in all of the Pope’s activities, the difference between different situations and celebrations, as well as the different levels of authority of his words, must be understood and respected,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi said May 30.

He explained that while the full text of Pope Francis’ public events is made available, the daily homilies are only summarized because of “the character of the situation, and the spontaneity and familiarity of the Pope’s remarks.”

Pope Francis, he added, wants to retain the familiar atmosphere that characterizes the daily Mass, which is typically attended by a small number of the faithful. “For that reason,” Fr. Lombardi said, “the Pope has specifically requested that the live video and audio not be broadcast.” …

After “careful consideration,” Fr. Lombardi said in his May 30 statement, “it seems the best way to make the richness of the Pope’s homilies accessible to a wide audience, without altering the nature of his remarks, is to publish a detailed summary, rich in direct quotations that reflect the genuine flavor of the Pope’s expressions.”

“L’Osservatore Romano undertakes this responsibility every day. Vatican Radio, on account of the nature of the medium, offers a shorter synthesis, including some of the original sound, while CTV offers a video clip corresponding to one of the audio inserts published by Vatican Radio,” he explained.

So those of us wanting more from these daily homilies—and who aren’t fortunate enough to be present for the papal Masses—are out of luck, it appears. However, we are in the rather remarkable position of hearing something new from the Holy Father nearly every day, even if it is a quote within someone else’s summary. And, as Matthew Schmitz showed earlier this month, these homilies have contained some of Pope Francis’ most vivid and powerful images (“Godspray” is my personal favorite).

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.