George Conger: For some reason, Pope Francis remains a mystery

Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

The Argentine cardinal who 500 days ago became Pope Francis? Why, from a journalistic perspective, do we know so little about someone who talks so much?

Extracts of the interview with journalist Pablo Calvo published last week in Viva, the Sunday color supplement of the Buenos Aires daily newspaper El Clarín, to mark the pope’s first 500 days in office does not provide an answer.

The July 27, 2014, article (the eleventh the pope has given to the press since assuming office – ten of these to secular newspapers) has received widespread coverage in the Spanish-language media. But save for the Catholic press, the interview has not been given much play in the Anglosphere.  

That is a shame, for there are nuggets of journalistic gold buried in the El Clarín story. Yet the newspaper fails to unearth them, preferring to frame the story in soft focus. What El Clarín does report suggests the pope is adapt at playing back to interviewers what they want or expect to hear. Or has El Clarín cherry-picked those portions of its interview with Francis to present to the world what it believes is the essence of the Argentine pope? 

The result is that what was left unsaid in this interview is more interesting, and more important, than what was said.

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