Just one month after their request, Pope Francis has scheduled a private audience with the college of writers from La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit cultural review whose articles are approved by the Vatican’s secretary of state before publication.
The private audience has been officially scheduled for June 14, according to a Monday post on the magazine's Twitter feed.
The meeting will begin with Father Adolfo Nicolàs, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, greeting the Pope in the name of the writers of Civiltà Cattolica. The gathering will also include a short speech by Pope Francis on the work of the Jesuit monthly magazine.
Father Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civiltà Cattolica, said in a June 10 interview with CNA that he “personally asked Father Nicolàs to be at the meeting and hold the speech” since “Civiltà Cattolica is directly under his supervision.”
Fr. Spadaro also revealed that he first asked the Pope to meet with the writers in a phone conversation on May 14, which was unusual because it was the Holy Father who called Fr. Spadaro.
The director of La Civiltà Cattolica said that Pope Francis called looking for him at La Civiltà Cattolica headquarters, but he was out of the office.
The telephone operator looked around for Fr. Spadaro, and once he was located, the priest called the Pope’s personal secretary to say he received the Pope's message. The secretary eventually asked Fr. Spadaro for his mobile number, "just in case."
Some hours later, the Pope called Fr. Spadaro on his cell phone.
“I must say,” he commented, “that I felt a great proximity. Even though a phone call by the Pope is quite unusual, I felt the conversation was normal, simple and natural. We were just two Jesuits speaking.”
On that occasion, the magazine director told the Pope that “he would be pleased” if he could the writers could meet with him.
And then, a week later he reiterated the invitation when he met the Pope in St. Martha’s House, the Vatican residence where Pope Francis lives.
Fr. Spadaro explained that “the college of writers of La Civiltà Cattolica has always been received in a private audience by the new elected Pope,” but “it is unusual and special that the audience will take place so little time after our request.”
In their private conversation, Fr. Spadaro told the Pope “that we of La Civiltà Cattolica are at his complete disposal for anything he wants us to focus on.”
Ultimately, he noted, “as Jesuits we are bound to this by our fourth vote of absolute obedience to the Pope.”