Pope Francis praises Father James Martin during audience with Vatican communicators

Breaking News Gerard O'Connell / November 16, 2022 Print this:
Jesuit Father James Martin greets Pope Francis after his audience with the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication, in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace in Rome on November 12, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Vatican News)

Pope Francis gave the well-known American Jesuit, Father James Martin, an unexpected shoutout when he received some 250 communicators from the Vatican and around the world in audience on Saturday, November 12. 

Francis hailed him as “a man who has values, Christian and human values” and “a communicator who knows how to teach you to communicate with God.” He recalled that “he has written a book that’s called Learning to Pray and recommended that people read it “because this will teach you to pray.”

Father Martin was in the audience in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina that Saturday morning and was taken completely by surprise when the pope mentioned his name. Francis had received him in a 45-minute private audience in the papal library in the Apostolic Palace the previous day, during which the Jesuit priest told him about his ministry to LGBTQ Catholics and “the lights and shadows” of their lives in the church and society.

The pope encouraged him in this important ministry of bridge building and Father Martin gave Francis a copy of his book on prayer in Spanish.

Pope Francis mentioned Learning to Pray in off-the-cuff remarks to an audience that included many members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications, which has some 500 employees and consultors from around the world. (Father Martin was recently reappointed as a consultor. The pope first appointed him to this role in April 2017.)

Pope Francis mentioned Learning to Pray in off-the-cuff remarks to an audience that included many members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications, which has some 500 employees and consultors from around the world. 

The first Latin American pope arrived with a prepared speech, but decided not to read it. He asked that the text be distributed to all present, and then spoke freely from the heart for more than ten minutes, offering advice for their work as communicators.   

He emphasized the importance of “the communication of values” and said: “We cannot descend to a communication devoid of values. We must communicate with our values … Christian values, the values that are behind it, the values that teach us to go forward.”

He called on them also to be communicators “who know how to teach you the way to communicate with God” and said: “To be a communicator with values is this: to go, to walk, to risk, convinced that I am giving my life with my values, Christian values and human values.” He cited Father Martin as an example.

At the same time, he told them, “I am wary of sterile communicators, those who are pure technique. Technique alone is not useful, technique helps if there is a heart behind it, if there is a mind [behind it], if there is a man, a woman, who gives their all.”

Pope Francis concluded by putting church’s communicators on their guard against reliance on more technique. “Beware not to slip into technique alone because this will lead you to a sterile communication, devoid of values, and then you can fall into the hands of the consultants or ideologies of the moment,” he said.  

Francis, who was in great form despite ongoing problems with his right knee, concluded the event by greeting each of the 250 persons present.

Gerard O'Connell

Gerard O’Connell is the Vatican correspondent at America magazine and author of "The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History." He has covered the Vatican since 1985.

All articles by Gerard O'Connell

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1 Comment
  1. “The heavens are telling the Glory of God, and all creation ( especially LGBT Catholics) are shouting for joy! Come dance in the forest, play in the field, and sing, sing to the Glory of the Lord.

    Thank you so much for your Vocation. Always remember “if we all were to leave the church there would be nobody left to reform it.”

    Reply
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