Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pope Francis

The  selection of our new pope came more quickly than expected. The Catholic Times desk columnist goes over the weeks that have come and gone since then, with thoughts on the events that no one foresaw except the cardinals. It appeared to be the start of a new style, with a common touch and appearance, a cheerful and humorous manner not tied to the rigid habits of the past--a happy conclusion to what many believed would be the beginning of more emphasis on having a Church of and for the poor.

That the new pope Francis bowed his head and asked for our prayers before giving his blessing was, the columnist said, a shock, not what he expected. In church, we are always bowing our heads but we don't see many who bow their heads to us, he said. Isn't this the reason, he added, that what happened recently in Rome seemed to come out of nowhere, without any hint of what was to come?

The pope's choosing the name Francis moved the columnist to feel that the Assisi connection points to the direction that life itself should take, and that the accompanying values associated with the name are what the Church needs to emphasize today.  More than system or structural changes we need, he said, a fundamental change in attitude and mode of living.

The reformation that St.Francis began was one of simplicity and humility in life. It started very simply in a time of great Church power, riches, honors, and luxury that in the long run was the starting point for change. Today, there are also calls within and outside the Church for change, though not all are in accordance with the Gospel message. The clerical sexual abuse scandal is only one of several problems that need to be addressed by the new pope. Francis, from where he has positioned himself by his brief statements, appears to be the right person to start the ball rolling in the direction of a fundamental change of attitude.

The columnist uses the words of a theologian to point out that there is no need to tell the pope what the problems are in the Church; he is well acquainted with what ails the Church. And he quotes a Church historian as saying the cardinals made it clear they did not want a continuation of the past by choosing a Jesuit, who was not a member of the Vatican inner circle. It is understood that he will be making changes in the curia, the administrative arm of the Vatican.

The change the columnist believes is coming, however, does not mean just in personnel but in the tone and policies for a pastoral outreach. We will be seeing the direction the pope will be taking the universal Church in the future, and we trust it will be in the direction the name Francis indicates. We are not only hoping for changes in the Vatican but also hoping for changes here in Korea.

No comments:

Post a Comment