Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis - Thoughts

So many people in the blogosphere and the news have so many opinions about the newly-elected Pope Francis.  I don't have much to add in the way of information; perhaps I can offer two points to give perspective.

(1) The history of Pope Pius IX offers an example of a (at least external) transformation pre- and post-election.  Before elected pope, Pius IX had the reputation of something of a liberal; not very long into his papacy, he seemed to be a hardline doctrinaire.  I emphasize "seemed" and "reputation," but even this qualification helps make the point -- our perception of a newly elected Pope may not last very long.  Some may think that Pope Francis is not in favor of the Extraordinary Form, that his liturgical views in general fall well short of those of his predecessor, that he does not seem intent on the importance of the crisis in belief that is so prevalent in our time, etc., etc., etc.  Of these, the first is, to my knowledge, not substantiated, and the third seems to be an illegitimate inference drawn from the bald fact that Pope Francis speaks incessantly of the poor and pastoral issues (the second seems to have more weight, being drawn from observing his liturgical celebrations, including those post-conclave).  Point is: we may not really know what he thinks, so we should wait to see whether any of these three opinions turns out to be, in fact, wrong.

(2) Nevertheless, it may be that these three aforementioned opinions aren't, in fact, worthy of concern.  That is, even if they are true, that may not make much of a difference; for example, it may be that his focus will be fundamentally pastoral, so that he has no intention of altering his predecessor's attempts to rejuvenate and reform the liturgy nor of devaluing the current crisis of faith.  Perhaps he thinks that his role is to reform the Church in other ways: cleaning house, eradicating hypocrisy, preaching the Gospel in action (and, if necessary, in word).  And perhaps that is his role, following, as he does, 2 predecessors who were certainly "teaching Popes."