So, we have ourselves a new Pope! It remains to be seen how his papacy will evolve, but if the beginnings are any indication, it will be full of surprises. Pope Francis wasn’t on anyone’s short list of candidates, but from what I read in the Catholic press, he was saying and doing some things in the pre-conclave meetings that really caught the attention of the Cardinals.
In many ways, Pope Francis reminds me of John Paul I – do you remember him … the “Smiling Pope”? John Paul was the first to eschew some of the trappings of the Papacy, and Francis seems to be doing the same. Good Lord, when’s the last time you ever heard of a Pope paying his own hotel bill!?! I love his simplicity and straight-forwardness, the way he relates to everyday folks on an everyday level. Some of the old lions in the Vatican are gonna have kittens (as will many of the new lions elsewhere in the world), and no doubt many in the hierarchy will have to rethink their style of leadership.
We’ll have to wait to see where Pope Francis leads the church. But there’s little doubt he has already changed the tone of the papacy. It is occurring faster than anyone could possibly have imagined. A week into the pontificate, Catholics and others are tuning in, listening and watching more carefully than perhaps at any time in years, even decades. The message coming from Francis is a message of humility, mercy and love. Such a person cannot help but be less judgmental, living and acting as Jesus taught us to be: less judgmental. Boy, do we need that attitude in our world!
Francis will not change any of the core teachings of the Church. But you know what … even the hard and unpopular stands become a bit easier to bear when they come from a “Do as I do” person instead of a “Do as I say or else” person. Do you know what I mean?
We are in a graced moment. It’s as if the Holy Spirit is splashing buckets of fresh water over us. The spiritual pussy-willows are blooming too!
Have a grace-filled Holy Week and a wonderful Easter.
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.