How to Communicate in a Polarized Society
11 March 2019
How do we communicate in a polarized society? How do we promote unity, encounter and reconciliation while remaining faithful to diversity? What is the attitude, the mindset required to be good communicators in a context where polarization seeks to impose itself on every public or private discussion?
Polarization is as old as humanity, but today it tends to increase exponentially in the face of large-scale changes and uncertainties. In the U.S., where nearly half of voters, both Democrats and Republicans, currently see their political opponents as a threat to the welfare of the nation, the growing polarization has given rise to studies and projects aimed at overcoming it.
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt is at the forefront of this effort. In The Righteous Mind, he stressed the importance of “moral intuitions” and the fact that people seek arguments to defend them. Liberals and conservatives need to learn what moral intuitions respectively motivate each other if they are to cross the gap separating them.
The civic organization Better Angels tries to “depolarize America” by implementing practical projects in which it brings together supporters of Democrats and Republicans. Its founder, David Blankenhorn, who describes himself as a person injured by the American culture wars, has identified seven attitudes to depolarize conflict, deriving them from the seven classical virtues of Christianity.
According to Blankenhorn, the three highest virtues are:
1) “criticizing from within,” which means to criticize the other starting from a shared value (recognizing that moral intuitions are usually universal); 2) “considering the assets at stake,” that is, to acknowledge that while some conflicts concern good as opposed to evil, most of them occur among goods, and the task therefore is not so much to separate good from evil as to recognize and weigh goods in competition with each other; 3) “count higher than two,” that is, to overcome the tendency to divide according to antagonistic pairs, which leads to pseudo-contrasts.
We can also find attempts to overcome the acute inter-ecclesial divisions between “progressive” and “conservative” groups within the Catholic Church in the United States. In June 2018, for example, Georgetown University sponsored a meeting of 80 authoritative Catholic figures with the aim of overcoming polarization on the basis of the social doctrine of the Church and the teaching of Pope Francis. One of the speakers, Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, noted a distinction between “partisanship” and “polarization.” The first involves division or disagreement, yet allows for working together to achieve shared purpose. In contrast, in the latter case, isolation and mutual mistrust prevent cooperation. Cupich recalled that, to Saint John Paul II, polarization is a sin, “because it raises seemingly implacable obstacles to fulfilling God’s plan for humanity.”
The pope’s stance on polarization
Pope Francis has observed that “we live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.”
In his latest message for World Communications Day, he said, “In the social network, identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice (ethnic, sexual, religious and other).” The pope reflected on belonging to each other as the deepest motivation of the duty to guard the truth, which indeed is revealed in communion. And he described the Church as “a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on ‘likes,’ but on the truth, on the ‘Amen,’ by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.”
One of the most important speeches delivered by Pope Francis on this matter is his address to the joint session of the United States Congress: “But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism that sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds that affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. The pope went on to note a possible paradox: “In the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.” From the Christian point of view, this rejection, this resistance, is a “criterion of sanctity and Christian orthodoxy [which] is not so much in the way of acting as in the way of resisting.” It is a personal choice to withhold, one that recognizes that polarization originates in the human heart, and is subsequently fueled by the media and politics.
In his message for the 50th World Day of Social Communications, the pope noted how the misuse of the media can lead to “further polarization and division between individuals and groups.” Similarly, politics is unhealthy if it thrives on conflict, escalating it to increase the power or influence of the “middleman” politician, unlike a healthy politics, which strives to reconcile people for the sake of the common good and in which the “mediator” politician sacrifices him or herself in favor of the people.
In 1974, when he had just been appointed provincial of the Jesuits, Bergoglio highlighted the fact that in the Spiritual Exercises, sin is “the disruptor of our belonging to the Lord and our holy mother, the Church.” Sin disintegrates even our belonging to humanity. He also stated that “the only real enemy is the enemy of God’s plan,” since as Paul says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28). He added: “And this is the hermeneutic to discern what is primary from what is accessory, what is authentic from what is false,” the “contradictions of the moment from God’s time,” which is “the greatest of our contradictions.”
A de–polarizing mindset
Let us examine four attitudes of Pope Francis that help us identify the mindset needed to discern how to communicate well in a polarized society. There are two noes and two yeses. First, do not argue with people trying to polarize, and do not be confused by false contradictions. Then, say yes, more with actions than with words, to mercy as the ultimate paradigm, and say it in that “maternal dialect” which reaches the heart of every person in his or her specific culture.
Let us look at some situations where the pope, with a few words (sometimes a gesture, a pause or a meaningful silence), communicated well in a polarized environment.
Consider the conference held at the Augustinianum (Pontifical Patristics Institute, Rome) on intergenerational dialogue, on the occasion of the presentation of the book Sharing the Wisdom of Time. Pope Francis dialogued with a pair of grandparents who expressed the need for help in communicating well with their children. They told him: “despite our best efforts, as parents, to transmit the faith, children sometimes are very critical, they dismiss us, they reject their Catholic education. What should we tell them?”
The pope paused briefly, and then answered firmly: “There is a thing I said once, spontaneously, on the transmission of faith: faith is transmitted ‘in dialect.’ Always. The familiar dialect, the dialect … Think of the mom of those seven brothers we read about in the Book of Maccabees: the biblical account says twice that the mom encouraged them ‘in dialect,’ in their mother tongue, because the faith had been transmitted so, faith is transmitted at home.” Then he added: “Never argue, never, because this is a trap: children want to provoke parents into arguing. No. Better to say: ‘I cannot answer this, look for another answer elsewhere, but search, search….’ Always avoid direct disagreement because this creates distance. And always give witness ‘in dialect,’ that is, with gestures and caresses that they understand.”
The strength of that brief dialogue between the pope and the couple of parents/grandparents contains a core of communication that disarms those who polarize, willfully or involuntarily. We should adopt these two attitudes: bear witness ‘in dialect’ and avoid arguing. Avoiding arguing presumes that one makes a discernment: saying no to a false polarization and saying yes to a paradigm that overcomes it, that of mercy.
These attitudes appear in two more episodes of the pontificate of Francis. The first during the return flight from the apostolic journey to Ireland. A reporter asked a question about accusations of a cover-up launched that morning by the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The question attempted to get the pope to declare clearly whether those accusations (on the episodes of sexual abuse involving the former Cardinal McCarrick) were true. Instead of responding within the terms set by Viganò, Francis replied that at that moment he would not say a single word about it. Rather, he invited journalists to investigate on their own the truth of the accusations. His silence has been interpreted in various ways, more or less favorably. But the important thing is that the pope chose to keep silence. We will return to this later.
The other episode was the return flight from the apostolic visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. During the visit, a polarization had been created around the question of the pope using the term Rohingya, an ethnic group that the Myanmar military authorities refuse to acknowledge. The pope avoided using the term while in Myanmar but, on arriving in Bangladesh, held a poignant encounter with 16 refugees of that ethnic group, in which he said that “the presence of God today is also called Rohingya.”
During the onboard press conference, the pope explained that using the name in his official speeches would have meant to slam the door in the face of those he was dialoguing with, an aggressive act that would ensure that his “message does not reach its destination.” Rather, in his speeches in Myanmar he had spoken of the importance to include everyone, of rights and citizenship, and that subsequently, in his private meetings, he was then allowed to “go further.”
During the interreligious meeting in Dhaka, that term escaped from his mouth spontaneously when he greeted the refugees. The pope says: “I began to feel something inside: ‘I cannot let them go without saying a word,’ and I asked for the microphone. And I started to talk … I do not remember what I said. I know at one point I asked for forgiveness. […] I was crying. I cried in a way that could not be noticed. They were crying as well.” Francis completed his reflection: “Once I saw the entire path, the entire journey, I felt that the message was delivered.” He had a message to be communicated, a message focused on mercy and inclusion. And in order to transmit it, he had been able to overcome the polarizations.
Do not argue with those who accuse
The example and counsel of Francis is to refrain from arguing within a polarized environment, whether it is a familial context, with the recommendation addressed to parents when their children try to drag them into an argument, or whether it is in public discussions, where accusations full of media aggression are launched, as in the situation involving Viganò.
The familial context in which the pope has highlighted his policy of refraining from argument shows us how the “virus of polarization” finds its home even among those who love each other. This very fact helps to understand the trick that usually trips us up when we let the spirit of argumentation take over. With those who love us, avoiding argument goes together with speaking “in dialect,” knowing that they will understand this language of love. With those who do not love us, and attack us, avoiding argument goes well with being silent and behaving as the Lord did when he did not respond to the provocations of the Scribes and Pharisees, letting them “stew for a while.” The pope says: “With people who have no goodwill, with people who seek only scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction even in families: silence. And prayer.”
Silence prevents us from being caught in the spiral of charges and convictions, behind which there is always the evil spirit of the “Great Accuser.” Faced with an aggressive crackdown it is only possible to have one attitude: that of Jesus. “The pastor, in difficult moments, at times when the devil attacks, where the pastor is accused, but accused by the Great Accuser through so many people, so many powerful people, he suffers, he offers his life and prays.” It is a silence that reveals the only real contradiction: that which is established between the Father of Lies and Christ crucified. “In moments of darkness and great tribulation, when the knots and the tangles cannot be untangled or straightened out, nor things be clarified, then we have to be silent. The meekness of silence will show us to be even weaker, and so it will be the devil who, emboldened, comes into the light, and shows us his true intentions, no longer disguised as an angel but unmasked.” Against the Great Accuser the way to behave is that of the Lord, who does not speak of himself, yet wins with the word of God.
This refusal to argue has nothing to do with a quietist peace or false irenicism, which according to the logic of polarization, would imply bias (“he who is silent consents”). Nor is it about avoiding conflict. Nothing could be further from the thoughts and attitudes of the pope, who welcomes conflict and tension as creative opportunities. Rather it is about discerning the action of the evil spirit in his attempt to disguise true contradiction, and propose peace as if it were a bargain rather than a long journey.
In a meditation offered to the students of the Jesuit Colegio Máximo in Buenos Aires, to mark the end of the year 1980, Bergoglio pointed out that temptations against unity may be many, but principally “a refusal to accept that the model of the spiritual life is a battle; you can dismiss it either because you are deceived by irenicism, or because you are lured by the prospect of a premature harvest, accentuating contradictions.” He added: “[False] irenicism offers a deceptive kind of ‘peace at any price’ in which you negotiate what should be non-negotiable and you lose the ability to condemn. […] The other temptation is a caricature of the meaning of life as a battle.”
Similarly, he says in Evangelii Gaudium (EG): “When conflict arises, some people simply look at it and go their way as if nothing happened; they wash their hands of it and get on with their lives. Others embrace it in such a way that they become its prisoners; they lose their bearings, project onto institutions their own confusion and dissatisfaction and thus make unity impossible. But there is also a third way, and it is the best way to deal with conflict. It is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process” (EG 227).
Faced with an intensely polarized world, trying to remove yourself from it or ignoring it is not an option, but rather a temptation. An understandable one, perhaps, in a mimetic context in which the risk of being contaminated, as we have seen, is very great. Yet what Francis urges us to do is to enter that world, to take risks, but with discernment. He urges us to assume a clearly missionary attitude: to accuse ourselves, which brings us into contact with God’s mercy, rather than being drawn into the dynamics of feeling victimized and accusing others. It is an attitude that goes hand in hand with the missionary going out to preach the Gospel. Rather than remaining stuck in arguments and making “countermoves,” the Church makes a step forward “toward those who need her the most,” toward those who have not yet received the Gospel. The Church, when persecuted, becomes missionary.
Do not see contradictions where there are only contrasts
Instead of arguing, we must discern. Where there is polarization, it is not just a clash of ideas, but also of spirits. The bad spirit, especially in a context of tribulation, seeks to turn disagreements into conflicts. As Gustave Thibon says, “one of the key signs of mediocrity of spirit is to see contradictions where there are only contrasts.”
The four principles of Francis, above all two of them, are the criteria for such discernment. The clarity that is required to discern that “unity prevails over conflict” is a patient lucidity that “agrees to endure the conflict” in order to solve it, without remaining imprisoned in it. Lucidity is also required to discern that “reality is more important than ideas.” It is more important because contradiction occurs at the level of ideas, not of reality.
For Romano Guardini, contradiction is something that exists only in thought and language, not in reality. Reality – what he called the “living concrete” – is always complex. All poles find a place here. Every human being is a web of relationships that involve contrasts, but these are not opposed or in contradiction. Guardini describes tensions between above/below, internal/external, shape/fullness, structure/vital force. A reality does not contradict the previous one, but assumes it, transforms it or leaves it behind. Therefore, as the pope wrote to the Chilean people, “Discerning assumes learning to listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to tell us. And we can do so only if we are able to listen to the reality of what happens.”
In his article “Some Reflections on the Union of Souls,” published in 1990, Bergoglio clarifies the difference between contradiction on the one hand and contrast on the other: contradiction always closes off alternatives, refuses to accommodate them; it is disjunctive. Contrasts, however, would rather indicate things which – being apparently and/or actually in tension – can nonetheless be brought into agreement. The diversity of ideas, feelings, imaginations and movements surfacing when one prays and discerns can reach a “new inner unity, continued but distinct from the one which was there before the beginning of the process of discernment.”
This new harmony can always be lost, and this demands that we are constantly open to new synthesis. “The entire process configures what we could define etymologically as a ‘conflict’ […]. This inner conflict, which I prefer to call “opposition” rather than “contradiction,” is the interior reference that we have unity in diversity in order to understand what unity in diversity is in the body of the Society,” and by analogy what unity is in the diversity of the Church and society.
For this reason the pope could trust the sometimes turbulent and confrontational Synod process, which gave rise to the new pastoral practice of Amoris Laetitia. Through reflection, the exchange of views, prayer and discernment, “the good spirit has prevailed,” despite the temptations along the way.
The yes to the paradigm of mercy
The discernment which strengthens us in saying no to polarizing arguments has its source and foundation in a deeper and more radical yes: the yes of divine mercy to all creation. The unconditional mercy of God, which for us has become concrete in Jesus, is the only reality able to heal and harmonize every false contradiction with the strength of God’s love, which “by its very nature, is communication.” Mercy “is the fullness of justice and the brightest manifestation of the truth of God,” as the pontiff succinctly states. It is the final paradigm, the highest, and our mission is to proclaim it with works and with words.
We find its model in the parable of the Good Samaritan taught by Jesus. This not only contains a supernatural revelation, but also a revelation of what is most tenderly human. The practice of corporal works of mercy, so called because they concern the flesh of others, is complementary to the spiritual works of mercy, which consist in good communication: instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing the sinner, forgiving injuries, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead. Practicing these works of mercy means to launch a clear message, which touches the heart of whoever witnesses them.
The pope points out: “What we say and how we say it, every word and every gesture should be able to express mercy, tenderness and forgiveness of God for everyone. […] The mild mercy [of Christ] is the model of our proclamation of the truth and condemnation of injustice. It is our primary task to assert truth in love (cf. Eph 4:15). Only words spoken with love and accompanied by mildness and mercy touch the hearts of us sinners.” Francis asks that “the style of our communication be such as to overcome the logic that clearly separates the sinners from the righteous” and that at the same time generates “proximity […] in a divided, fragmented, and polarized world.”
The criterion of discernment for good communication is the same as the one of the life of every Christian, and of the life of the Church in general: the increase of mercy. “The best way to discern whether our prayers are authentic will be to observe to what extent our lives will be transformed in the light of mercy” (GE 105).
Giving witness in a dialect
To bear witness “in dialect” is, therefore, saying and doing things “in the style of Jesus,” with a good spirit, as St. Peter Faber used to say. The expression used by Francis is “to give witness in dialect.” The contents of this witness are what the pope calls “doctrine”: truths which are lived, not merely known. The doctrine shapes the real unity, because “the things of God always add up. They never subtract. They gather up.” However, for the same reason it generates opposition and resistance: “Only when the Church affirms doctrine does the real schism surface.”
The thought and the testimony of Francis offer, therefore, a path of depolarization that might apply to many contexts in which there are conflicting parties: for example, between liberals and conservatives in the Church or, in England, between the supporters of Remain and Leave, divided over Brexit. It is a journey that welcomes tension and disagreement as an opportunity to create something superior on the basis of a reconciled diversity and the paradigm of mercy, avoiding the death-dealing traps of sterile polarization. It is a way of dialoguing that does not start with disagreements, but by listening to each other’s dreams.
Finding ways to give witness to love and mercy in “maternal dialect” is the nucleus of a behavior that applies to both the restricted family environment and wider public discussions. In essence: in order to communicate well, the key task is to locate the thread of that language which is at the basis of life, where behind the words it is possible to find the source of tenderness that made possible the communal life of each family, every community and every people. This is the challenge: find and not lose the thread of that native language which unites all reality, to deal with the abstract language of ideologies that divide. “Brothers, ideas are to be argued, situations to be discerned. We are gathered to discern, not to argue.”
.See the results of the survey by the Pew Research Center, “Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016,” June 22, 2016, in http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/.
.J. Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, New York, Vintage Book, 2012.
.The other four attitudes concern the importance to doubt, to specify, to qualify, and to keep the conversation going. Cf. “The Seven Habits of Highly Depolarizing People,” in The American Interest, February 17, 2016, in https://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/02/17/the-seven-habits-of-highly-depolarizing-people/; D. Blankenhorn, “Why polarization matters,” in The American Interest, December 22, 2015, in www.the-american-interest.com/2015/12/22/why-polarization-matters.
.Cf. “Though Many, One: Overcoming Polarization through Catholic Social Thought,” promoted by the Initiative for Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. See C. White, “Georgetown summit looks to Francis in overcoming polarization,” Crux, June 7, 2018.
.Pope Francis, Homily for the Consistory, November 19, 2016.
.Pope Francis, “We are members one of another” (Eph 4:25): From social network communities to the human community. Message for the 53rd World Day of Social Communications, January 24, 2019.
.Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 2.
.Francis, “We are members one of another,” op. cit.
.Pope Francis, Address of the Holy Father to the Joint Session of the United States Congress, September 24, 2015.
.Ibid. On another occasion the pope also said: “The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting. We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church” (Francis, Homily during the Consistory, cited above).
.Cf. Augustine, Sermons 46: Pastors, n. 13, in D. Fares, “Io sono una missione,” in Civ. Catt. 2018 I 430ff.
.Francis, Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter, Message for the 50th World Communications Day, January 24, 2016
.J. M. Bergoglio, transcript of the inaugural lecture of a course on political formation and reflection, Centro de estudios, formación y animación social, Argentina, June 1, 2004. The distinction between the mediador (mediator) and intermediario (middleman) is one he has made often: the first brings the two parts together, sacrificing himself; the second enriches himself at the expense of both. Jesus was the ultimate “mediator.”
.Pope Francis, Nel cuore di ogni padre. Alle radici della mia spiritualità, Milan, Rizzoli, 2014, 139.
.Ibid., 42. With respect to the weight that this theory had on the thought of Bergoglio, we must remember that decisive for him were the influence, dialogue and collaboration of the Jesuit Miguel Ángel Fiorito (1916-2005); see M.A. Fiorito, “La opción personal de San Ignacio: Cristo o Satanás,” in Ciencia y Fe XII-46 (1956) 23-56.
.Speaking of mindset, think of what Paul says: “We have the mind [noun] of Christ”, referring to the fact that” the things of the Spirit” are not understood only through natural criteria, and can be judged [ἀνακρίνεται] through the Holy Spirit” (cf. 1 Cor 2:14-16).
.Francis, La saggezza del tempo. In dialogo con papa Francesco sulle grandi questioni della vita, Milan, Rizzoli, 2018. In English: Pope Francis and Friends, Sharing the Wisdom of Time, Loyola Press, 2018.
.Id., Intergenerational dialogue, meeting with young people and the elderly at the Augustinianum, Rome, October 23, 2018.
.Cf. Id., Press conference during the return flight from Ireland, August 26, 2018.
.Id., Press conference on the return flight from Bangladesh, December 2, 2017.
.A. Tornielli, “The Pope, ‘The presence of God today is also called Rohingya,’” in Vatican Insider, December 1, 2017.
.Francis, Homily in Santa Marta, September 3, 2018.
.Between September 3 and 20, 2018, after the media silence that was imposed regarding the accusations of Viganò, the pope gave eight sermons against “the Great Accuser,” of which he described extensively the attitude in the appropriate context, the preaching of the Word of God.
.Id., Homily in Santa Marta, September 18, 2018.
.Satan saw Jesus in such a bad state, and like a hungry fish that goes after the bait attached to the hook, he swallowed Him […], but in that moment, he also swallowed His divinity because that was the bait attached to the hook” (Ibid. September 14, 2018).
.Id., Non fatevi rubare la speranza, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 85-108. Cf. A. Ivereigh, “A time to keep silence,” in http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/time-keep-silence; D. Fares, “Against the Spirit of Fierceness” in Civ. Catt. English Ed. Sept. 2018.
.See Francis, Homily in Santa Marta, September 3, 2018.
.In a conversation with Fr. Spadaro, the pope said: “The opposition opens a journey […]. I must say I love opposition” (J. M. Bergoglio, Nei tuoi occhi è la mia parola. Omelie e discorsi di Buenos Aires 1999-2013, Milan, Rizzoli, 2016, 19.)
.Cf. J. M. Bergoglio, Natale, Milan, Corriere della Sera, 2014, 107ff.
.“Accusing oneself is the feeling of my misery, feeling miserable, miserable before the Lord. The feeling of shame. And in fact accusing oneself cannot be done in words, but should also be felt in the heart (Francis, Homily in Santa Marta, September 6, 2018).
.Cf. J. M. Bergoglio, “Doctrine of Tribulation,” Civ. Catt. Eng. Ed. May 2018 https://laciviltacattolica.com/the-doctrine-of-tribulation
.G. Thibon, El pan de cada día, Madrid, Rialp, 1952, 63, quoted by López Quintás nell’Introduzione a R. Guardini, El contraste, Madrid, BAC, 1996, 11.
.EG 226-230. Cf. Francis, Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Chile, May 31, 2018; D. Fares, “Francis and the abuse scandal in Chile,” in Civ. Catt. Eng. Ed. Safeguarding 2019, https://laciviltacattolica.com/francis-and-the-abuse-scandal-in-chile-letters-to-the-bishops-and-to-the-holy-faithful-people-of-god/
.On the influence exerted by Guardini on Bergoglio, cf. D. Fares, “Prefazione. L’arte di guardare il mondo,” in R. Guardini, L’opposizione polare, op. cit.; M. Borghesi, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Una biografia intellettuale. Dialettica e mistica, Milan, Jaca Book, 2017.
.Francis, Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Chile, op. cit.
.Cf. J. M. Bergoglio, Non fatevi rubare la speranza, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 152.
.Ibid., 151. The process takes place in the inner dialogue, marked by peace. Bergoglio said, “If we carefully examine our inner experience, we can see that tensions are resolved on an upper level, keeping – in the new harmony reached – the potential of the different particularities” (ibid., 152).
.“Saint Ignatius does not fear conflict. Indeed, he grows suspicious when he does not find it in making spiritual exercises, privileged moment of discernment and struggle of spirits” (ibid.).
.See the pope’s letter to Stephen Walford, author of the book Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce. In Defense of Truth and Mercy (New York, Paulist Press, 2018).
.Francis, Comunicazione e misericordia: un incontro fecondo, op. cit.
.GE 105; cf. AL 311.
.Francis, Comunicazione e misericordia: un incontro fecondo, op. cit.
.J. M. Bergoglio, Natale, op. cit., 116.
.Francis, Letter to the Bishops of Chile, May 15, 2018.