September 20, 2013 — The world took notice when 16 Jesuit publications, including America magazine, published Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro’s 12,000-word interview with Pope Francis on Sept. 19. Major newspapers and networks in the U.S. and around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CBS News and CNN, covered the interview, which was in-depth and wide-ranging.
"It is unprecedented certainly in the history of America magazine, and probably in the history of papal communications, so it's a very exciting day," America’s editor-in-chief Jesuit Father Matt Malone told National Catholic Reporter.
The idea for the interview came up at America magazine shortly after the pope’s election when Jesuit Father James Martin, editor-at-large, suggested to Fr. Malone, “Why don’t we try to interview the pope?” To which Fr. Malone responded, “Yes, why not?”
After learning that the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica was also interested in interviewing the pope, Fr. Malone said it made sense for the two publications to partner on the project. Fr. Spadaro of La Civiltà Cattolica approached the pope’s spokesperson, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, about the interview, and the pope consented.
Other Jesuit journals were then included, and each journal submitted questions to Fr. Spadaro, who conducted and transcribed the interview. Fr. Spadaro then personally reviewed the text with the pope, who approved it for publication. The interview, conducted in August, was kept under wraps until it was published on Sept. 19 by 16 Jesuit publications.
Many of the stories from U.S. media covering the interview focused on the pope’s vision for the church. CBS News asked Fr. Martin, who also appeared on CNN, BBC and NPR, if the interview was a clear signal of a new way of doing things. “Yes,” said Fr. Martin. [Pope Francis is] saying ‘This is the way I do things. This is how I want to communicate with people, and this is how I am.’” [America Magazine]