I heard that with the last pope people in audiences were told not to ask questions. And if questions were to be asked, they were submitted in advance for approval.
In the school of evangelization, seekers and doubters and skeptics bring lots of tough questions. You can’t screen them. By turning away the questions, one turns away the questioners.
So it was amusing to read of the cheers when Pope Francis pulled a South Carolina valedictorian on his adult hosts.
The event’s presenters seemed hesitant about the pope’s request, saying no questions had been prepared in advanced and warning him that the students from elementary, middle and high school would just be “winging it.”
The one about the youthful struggle with doubt was great: “What can you say to help me and others like me?” he asked the pope.
Pope Francis said the journey of life “is an art” that isn’t easy because it requires juggling the need to move forward with the importance of taking time to reflect.
“If we walk too quickly, we’ll get tired and won’t be able to reach our destination,” yet if we stop or take our time “we won’t get there either.”
Life’s journey “is truly the art of looking at the horizon, reflecting on where I want to go, but also putting up with the fatigue from this journey,” he said.
Don’t be afraid of failure,” he insisted. The problem with the journey of life and faith isn’t falling; it’s not getting back up.
“Get right back up, immediately and keep going,” he said.
Don’t embark on this journey alone either, he said, because that would be “awful and boring.” Go as a “community with friends and people who care about you very much because that will help us get to our destination,” he said.
Emphasis on time to reflect, on persistence, on overcoming the fear of failure, and the need for community. The essence of Ignatian spirituality, and a very evangelical outlook.
Todd, in case you have forgotten, the “last pope” had a name, Benedict XVI, and it hardly seems illuminating to make it appear as though he was a hard-hearted jerk for not taking impromptu questions from the crowd. Not all of us are as nimble on our feet as perhaps you are. And, with the importance placed on papal pronouncements, perhaps a bit of caution is not ill-advised.