Frequent commenter FrMichael mentioned Pope Francis in a comment, referring to …
… the endless self-citation he is apt to do …
Here’s how the last three popes come out citing their own works in proportion to the total number of footnotes and references. It seems Pope Francis is the mean, not the extreme:
- John Paul II: 29 self-citation and 182 total footnotes. 16% proportion.
- Benedict XVI: 22 self-citations and 256 total footnotes. 9% proportion.
- Francis: 48 self-citations and 391 total footnotes. 12% proportion.
To be clear, I didn’t scan for ibidem references in any of these documents, so all of these are low estimates.
I’m aware that FrMichael is not the sum of critics of the Holy Father. But let’s remember that every public critic is part of the overall narrative. The most common criticism I’ve read is that the Holy Father has a ghostwriter. That can be presented as bad news. God has never seemed to think so. Jesus had four, and those are only the authorized ones.
In this age of rampant and easy criticism (and I confess my own part in that) as we engage it, we can consider the questions: is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? I’d think any third party would want to apply this as she or he reads the commentary of another. Especially now in the era of President Trump, and that goes for both sides.