National Geographic : 2015 Aug
FROM THE EDITOR PHOTO: DAVE YODER Pope Francis Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief Getting Close to the Pope His car is not a limo but a Ford Focus. His home is not the Apostolic Palace but a modest apartment. His shoes are orthopedic, his waistline growing, his humor frequent, his off-the-cuff remarks often jaw-dropping. (“If a per- son is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”) For the two and a half years of his papacy, Pope Francis has delighted and discomfited a worldwide audience. For the most part, that audience has been able to glimpse Francis only from afar. Outside of the Vatican’s own photographer, other news photographers are nearly always kept a good distance from the man himself. With one exception. Enter National Geographic photographer Dave Yoder, who for six months on and off last year was allowed unprecedented access to the pontiff. “I was so close, I was worried about tripping over him sometimes, or him tripping over me,” says Yoder, a Rome-based Indiana native. That unique access inspired the story in this issue as well as a forthcom- ing National Geographic book, Pope Francis and the New Vatican. Both were photographed by Yoder and written by Robert Draper. Yoder emerged with some 67,000 photos and plenty of stories. Take the time the six-foot-five Yoder found himself pinned to a wall in St. Peter’s Basilica, wedged in among Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” a group of bishops, and the pope, who was trying to talk with them. Francis “came right up to me and extended his hand and just waited. He looked me in the eye with an expression like, Are you not going to greet me?’’ That was one of the three times the pope and Yoder spoke. Yoder was struck by Francis’s enthusiasm for interacting with ordinary people. “ When he was surrounded by aides, he would be checking his watch. But when he was surrounded by people, the watch checking stopped and he gave them all the time they needed.’’ Photographing the pope was a singular adventure. “Every now and then it would strike me that it was exceedingly odd I was standing right next to Pope Francis,” Yoder says. “It was one of those things where you are like, This is never going to happen again.” We hope you enjoy our exclusive look at Pope Francis, up close and personal. Pope Francis meets the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis and the New Vatican is available at shopng.com/PopeFrancis and wherever books are sold. National Geographic will host a live panel discussion on the impact of Pope Francis at its Washington, D.C ., headquarters on September 16. For more informa- tion, please go to events.nationalgeographic.com.