Yesterday, we broke the story that Pope Francis had made comments on his plane presser (returning from Greece) indicating with a simple, emphatic affirmative that yes, there were concrete changes to the way the Church is going to deal with the divorced and remarried following the exhortation.
Some have (predictably) disputed those claims. There is at least one other translation floating around, and it’s not accurate. This is the one in use by the Catholic News Agency, America magazine, and others. That translation reads:
Frank Rocca (Wall Street Journal): Thanks, Holy Father. I see that the questions on immigration that I had thought to ask you have been asked and answered by you very well. If you permit me, I’d like to ask you another question about an event of recent days, which was your apostolic exhortation. As you well know, there has been much discussion about on one of the many, I know that we’ve focused on this a lot…there has been much discussion after the publication. Some sustain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that regulates access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried, that the Law, the pastoral praxis and obviously the doctrine remain the same. Others sustain that much has changed and that there are new openings and possibilities. For a Catholic who wants to know: are there new, concrete possibilities that didn’t exist before the publication of the exhortation or not?
Pope Francis: I can say yes, many. But it would be an answer that is too small. I recommend that you read the presentation of Cardinal Schonborn, who is a great theologian. He was the secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and he knows the doctrine of the faith well. In that presentation, your question will find an answer.
Having now seen the video of this Q&A, I can tell you that this translation is simply inexcusable. I do not speak Italian, but I do know a fair bit of Spanish, and the Holy Father speaks slowly. He pauses. His emphasis is unequivocal.
So I reached out to my translator again, and asked for his full transcript and translation, which he took from watching the video multiple times. This translator is well-qualified; performing Italian to English translations of Catholic events and speeches in Italy is a big part of how he makes his living. He has asked to remain anonymous, so I will honor his wishes. Those who want to question his translation and transcription may, fortunately, now do so themselves, because it’s all here in the video I’m about to show you. I’ve spent several hours with both the Italian and English text as well as the video, and I have personally and painstakingly added the subtitles you will read. (Following the video, I will provide both the Italian transcript and the English translation.)
I ask that you pay close attention to the Holy Father’s face (he laughs when Rocca mentions that there are people who believe that much has changed in the Church’s discipline, for example.) Pay attention to his tone. His emphasis. His pauses and hand gestures. The translations you are seeing in print stray very far from conveying the import of his words.
His statement that there have been concrete changes is emphatic. “I can say yes.” (pause for emphasis) “Period.” (pause) “But that would be too small an answer…”
For those who would like to read Cardinal Schönborn’s referenced presentation, it is available here.
The Italian transcript produced exclusively for 1P5 follows:
Rocca: Grazie Santo Padre! Vedo che le domande sull’immigrazione che di chi avevo pensato sono state chiesti già fatte, e lei ha risposto molto bene.
Quindi se mi permette vorrei fare una domanda su un altro evento degli ultimi giorni, che è stata la sua Esortazione Apostolica. Come lei ben sa, c’è stata molta discussione su uno dei molti punti – lo so che vi ci siamo concentrati molti – pero c’è stato molto discussione dopo la pubblicazione: alcuni sostengono che niente sia cambiato rispetto alla disciplina che governa l’accesso ai Sacramenti per i divorziati e i risposati, e che la legge e la prassi pastorale e ovviamente la dottrina rimangono così; altri sostengono che molto sia cambiato e che si sono tante nuove aperture e possibilità.
E la domanda è per una persona, un cattolico che vuole sapere: ci sono nuove possibilità concrete, che non esistevano prima della pubblicazione dell’Esortazione o no?
Pope Francis: Io posso dire “si”. Punto. Ma sarebbe una risposta troppo piccola. Io vi raccomando a tutti voi di leggere la presentazione che ha fatto il cardinale Schönborn, che è un grande teologo. E’ stato lui segretario della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede e conosce bene la dottrina della Chiesa. In quella presentazione la sua domanda avrà la risposta, eh? Grazie!
And now, the English translation of this transcript produced exclusively for 1P5:
Rocca: Thank you Holy Father. I see that the questions on immigration I had thought of have already been asked, and you have responded very well. So, if you will permit me to ask a question on another event of the last few days, which was your Apostolic Exhortation.
As you know well, there was much discussion on one of many points – I know we have concentrated a lot on it – but there has been much discussion after the publication…Some maintain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that governs the access to the Sacraments for the divorced and remarried, and that the law and the pastoral practice and obviously the doctrine remains the same; others maintain instead that much has changed and that there are many new openings and possibilities.
And the question for a person, a Catholic, that wants to know: Are there new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the Exhortation or not?
Pope Francis: I can say yes. Period. But that would be too small an answer.
I recommend to all of you to read the presentation that was made by Cardinal Schönborn, who is a great theologian. He was secretary [editor’s note: Schönborn was actually only a member, not the secretary] of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and knows well the doctrine of the Church. In that presentation your question will have the answer.
What Pope Francis is saying is surprisingly clear. The question is: why are so many Catholics trying to hide it?
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.