Friday, March 22, 2013

The New Pope's Intuition

Usually the secular press has little interest in things Catholic, but with the resignation of Benedict and the new Pope Francis, we have seen an increase in media coverage. One journalist expressed joy in reading about the new pope, noting that this pope doesn't make anyone feel uncomfortable by what he does, like some of the saints of the past. What Pope Francis has done the past few days anybody could do, which gave him much peace, the journalist said.

The pope's actions brought to mind, he said, religious leaders--Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist--who were of the same mold. There were some negative remarks made, he said, but they have subsided; he takes this as a sign that Francis had already won the hearts of many who might at first had reservations. 

When the pope came out on the balcony, for his first public appearance after becoming pope, his face seemed at peace; it is the face, he says, that often shows what is in the  heart. The pope's first words were words of humility, referring to himself not as the pope but as the bishop of Rome, and said the cardinals had to go to the ends of the world to find him, and jokingly asking God to forgive them for electing him.

He has already shown that he will continue living the life of poverty that he did in the past as the ordinary of Buenos Aires. Once he  figures out what to do with his police escort, the columnist sees the possibility of meeting him someday riding in the same subway car. 

The journalist  comments on the many problems the Church faces: bureaucracy, financial abuses, fallen-away Catholics, the sexual abuse of children, and an increasingly vocal society asking for a change in the Catholic understanding of abortion, contraception, euthanasia, same-sex marriages, woman priests, and the like. Priests themselves are also divided into conservative and progressive camps, and there are also European and non-European differences in outlook.

Francis has given us an answer to this confused state of affairs by his simplicity and humility. Although in doctrinal matters he is conservative, he has indicated that he will work to alleviate poverty and alienation wherever it is found, which will go a long way, the journalist says, to help close the gap between the conservative and progressive factions within the Church. With his warm disposition and casual, unpretentious manner, the new pope has given hope to many that at least some of the problems the Church currently faces will be addressed and solved.

The 115 Cardinals had to have the help of God to pick Francis for it took only a few days to realize that they had made the right choice. There was no brain storming on what to do after getting the votes of the Cardinals, Francis knew intuitively  what was needed and acted accordingly, very much in  harmony with the Cardinals who elected him. 

Their success should serve as a model, the journalist suggests, for both political parties here in Korea. If they were to study the cardinals' two-days of deliberations and their quick agreement concerning the best way for the Church to move forward in the years ahead, he believes the politicians of both Korean parties might succeed in uncovering what has been bothering our citizens for the past few months, and do something finally to resolve the matter.