Lisa Skinner believes that the 86 year-old Pontiff has valuable things to say to young people.
The Pope Answers
Available on Disney Plus
Running Time: 1hr 22mins
Overview: If you could ask the Pope anything, what would it be? In this documentary ten young people, from all over the world, get the opportunity to do just that. All of those present are Spanish speakers and so the Pope engages with them in his native tongue.
What I liked: As the documentary begins, we witness the individuals in their natural habitats preparing to meet with ‘Papa Francisco’, and it becomes apparent that they are from a variety of backgrounds. As they gather in Rome for the first time they speculate about the Pope and we learn that not all of them believe in God. Nonetheless, they all have important questions they want to put to the Pope, the man considered by Roman Catholics to be ‘God’s representative on Earth’. These young adults appreciate the magnitude of his role, some suggest he is more of a liberal than his predecessors. If nothing else they perceive him to be more laid back in his approach and less about the pomp and ceremony.
From the minute the Pope enters the room there is certainly no pretence: the location is rough and ready, and the young people are who they are. They do not hold anything back, their questions are varied, some are interested in finances and family. Others want to talk about the weightier issues of immigration, racism, sexuality, feminism, and abuse, with some of the more heated debates focusing on abortion and pornography.
Whilst this collection of people appears to be diverse, we see glimpses of each of their lives and commonality in the fact that they have all faced adversity of some sort, which has resulted in division. Now each of them is calling the church and society to a deconstruction of this ‘us and them’ mentality.
It is quite remarkable that the head of the Roman Catholic Church is engaging in these real-world conversations and at the same time he can respond using forms of speech that his audience understand.
These young people are bringing their experience and the challenges of life to him, yet he doesn’t preach at them, rather he listens and he brings biblical principles into his responses. Only twice does he reference scripture in their hour and a half chat. Like Christ he recognises his audience and responds with words they can hear. He handles the questions with grace and humility – despite his position there is a lack of ego about him.
It is obvious that the Pope is a man who is not detached from reality, despite his lack of mobile phone he is committed to continuously communicating with everything – this meeting demonstrates his desire to stay in communication with young voices. He shows an awareness of what is happening in Europe today with migrants and the need for integration, as well as the hierarchies applied to immigrants in society.
A poignant part of the conversation is between the Pope and a young devout Christian girl, unlike the others she has not experienced adversity to the same extent and his response to her truth is interesting. As is his response to a former Nun who no longer believes in God, his advice to her is striking.
What I didn’t like
It was mostly good. At times the group educate him, at others they challenge him on the church’s hypocrisy and doing more for the victims of abuse. but while the Pope acknowledges the abuse of power within the Church, he falls short of apologising for it to the two victims sat before him which is disappointing.
Thoughts for parents
This is a useful watch; it’s encouraging that it took place and it would be good to see conversations like it again in the future.
There is much wisdom to be gleaned from the Pope’s answers, he warns against getting tangled up in ideologies, emphasises the need for credibility in the Church and to reach the peripheries and he has the boldness to call a spade a spade when he must.
These young people are bringing their experience and the challenges of life to him, yet he doesn’t preach at them, rather he listens and he brings biblical principles into his responses. Only twice does he reference scripture in their hour and a half chat. Like Christ he recognises his audience and responds with words they can hear. He handles the questions with grace and humility – despite his position there is a lack of ego about him. Are your teens able to ask you things with this kind of freedom? Do we preach at them, or do we listen?
It is unlikely that you will agree with the Pope on everything but as he reminds his young audience, we can discuss different ideas but at the end of the day, if we are part of the church, we are owned by God and that is non-negotiable.