Verbal difference between Francis and Benedict

by | Jan 8, 2014 | Pope

According to the Huffington Post…Data journalist Chris Walker conducted a word frequency analysis on the first hundred speeches of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict to get a visual representation of their priorities.

Papal wordsFrancis clearly emphasized poverty and poor far more. Interestingly, he also invoked the words cross, courage, and flesh far more than his predecessor did. This suggests he referred in his speeches far more often to the example and sacrifice of Jesus. Importantly, Francis also emphasized women much more than Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI’s language showed emphasis on more terms relevant to the Catholic Church as an institution: apostolic, apostles, priests, ecclesial, diocese, parish, etc. He also used more words indicating the formal address of a diplomat; the words cordial and cordially stick out, as well as collaboration and country.

All this suggests that from the start of his papacy, Francis has focused on speaking directly to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. He does not emphasize the importance of the Church as an institution. With simple language, he emphasizes the need for Catholics to follow the example of Jesus, to serve people who have been marginalized by the world, and especially the many poor who he sees as excluded from the global economy.

Walker analyzed word frequencies in Pope Francis’ first 104 speeches from March 2013 to November 2013, and in Pope Benedict’s first 102 speeches between April 2005 and November 2005, only using official speeches with English translations.

Walker told The Huffington Post, “I wanted to see how Francis’ anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist worldview took shape in his first hundred speeches as pope.”

Read the Huffington Post article for more graphics and details.