Thursday, March 14, 2013

White Smoke


This week the conclave ended and the new South American Pope was declared.  He chose to call himself Francis I.  This is an encouraging sign, if any credence is given to the idea that that a popes chosen name reflects something of their faith and whom they choose to emulate.  

St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment is universally revered for his liberalism, acceptance, and protection of the innocent.  Never ordained, St Francis was born into wealth, but chose a life of simple poverty.  He was humble, kind, and compassionate.   

The world, and its more than one billion Catholics are ready for a new kind of pope; one with compassion, humanity, and a sense of modern times.  Regardless of your religious affiliations, the pope and what he thinks and says are important to you, because all  those Catholics are listening to him. Worried about population growth? Then you had better care what the pope has to say about birth control and abortion.  Concerned about the environment? Then hope the pope is too, he has a lot of people listening.

The prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Pope Francis I is living up to the hopes of liberal and progressive Catholics; and terrifying and scandalizing the institutional powers that be as well as his handlers.  Two cases in point: after a recent hotel stay, Pope Francis I went down to the front desk and did what we all do, paid the bill, himself, like a real human being.  And this; he has taken to going out to into the streets to greet the public, and shaking their hands.

I find this so refreshing.  A humanized Pope is long overdue in the church and perhaps the only thing that will salvage the Catholic religion from the trappings of its own institutions and politics.  Moreover, it stands as a good reminder for everyone, that all of us, especially in the face of success, money, and power, can use a little humility.  We can all be more human to one another.

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