The Questions That Norah O’Donnell Should Have Asked Pope Francis

Whatever else it managed to accomplish, Norah O’Donnell’s 60 Minutes interview with Pope Francis, aired on May 19, obliterated that much-lauded program’s reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism. The questions posed touched on none of the crucial issues raised by the pontificate over the past eleven years, even as they reinforced any number of mainstream media caricatures of the pope, his teaching, and his mode of governance.

What questions might Ms. O’Donnell have asked to make for a truly interesting interview on the old Sixty Minutes model? Some possibilities:

+ Your Holiness, you once responded to a reporter’s question about the specific case of a homosexual priest who was trying to lead an upright life by saying that, if a person turns from error and works with grace to live righteously, “Who am I to judge?” The global media immediately and inaccurately universalized this into an all-purpose papal injunction to moral non-judgmentalism about same-sex acts. Have you ever thought it important to correct that misrepresentation?

+ After you decided to live in the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guest house, rather than in the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace, the mainstream media praised this as a refreshing, anti-regal decision. But as you know, the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace is far more like a middle-class Italian flat than a gilded, Borgia-era boudoir. Wouldn’t correcting this media misrepresentation have been a service to the memory of your predecessors, who are implicitly criticized for inappropriate royalism by their choice to live in the apartment where popes have lived for some time?

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