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Media guide: Interview with pope reveals his communication philosophy


  • Pope Francis laughs with a woman at the Vatican July 6. A new book offers insight into the pope's philosophy of communication. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • People hold mobile phones in this illustration photo taken Sept. 27, 2013. A new book offers insight into the pope's philosophy of communication. (CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters)
  • A journalist takes a photo on his phone as Pope Francis greets journalists aboard the papal flight from Rome to Bogota, Colombia, Sept. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • A man types into a keyboard during a convention in Las Vegas, Nev., July 29. A new book offers insight into the pope's philosophy of communication. (CNS photo/Steve Marcus, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis sat down with an expert in media and communication for a yearlong series of interviews, those discussions offered some fascinating insight into the pope's philosophy of communication and suggested guidelines for the media.

The pope also explained what motivates his signature style of spontaneously speaking and engaging with people, including the papal plane's "lion's den" of journalists, despite knowing the risks and slip-ups that might result.

"When I was a student, an old Jesuit gave me this advice: 'Listen up, if you want to get ahead, well, think clearly and speak obscurely.' But I've been trying to speak clearly," the pope told the book's author, Dominique Wolton, who immediately noted, "Then you must have run into many problems. ..."

"Oh yes," said the pope, "But I hate hypocrisy. If I can't say something, I don't say it."

But the pope found plenty to say to Wolton, who compiled the 12 interviews in the book, "Politique et Societe" ("Politics and Society"). The publisher, Editions de l'Observatoire, released the book in French Sept. 6 and was in the process of negotiating English-language rights.

Wolton, a 70-year-old French sociologist who specializes in communication, globalization and cultural diversity, said he wanted to meet and talk shop with a man he sees as "one as the most exceptional intellectual and religious figures in the world."

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