The Vision of Francis
Since his election in 2013 Pope Francis has taken the world by storm. The actions that he’s performed and the words that he has spoken seem to have set a new tone for the papacy and for the Church. Some of these things seem to be so simple and others seem to be so profound.
Some of the things that he’s done or said that are apparent to me are:
• He has emphasized the virtue of humility
• He takes a non-traditional papal name, Francis, the name of the best known and, arguably, best loved saint in Christianity
• He asks the people assembled at St. Peter’s for his first Urbi et Orbi address to pray for him (Follow this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/pope-francis-i-first-address-full-text_n_2869157.html)
• After his election he pays his own hotel bill
• He responds to a reporter’s question concerning homosexuality with the “famous”: “Who am I to judge” statement (To read the actual quote follow this link: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303303.html)
• He creates a Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Curia and a more incisive role for the laity
• His marked concern for the poor and marginalized
• His recent comments on the environment and stewardship of the world’s resources
I have found him to have quite a lot in common with three of his predecessors, St. John XXIII, Bl. Paul VI and St. John Paul II; with John XXIII he seems to have that “common touch” and John’s emphasis on the world as community; with Paul he is emphasizing a concern for social justice; with John Paul II he shares an uncanny ability to engage even the most distant and uninvolved, religiously speaking, of individuals and John Paul II’s teaching on justice in the world.
I think he’s begun to build upon much of what these three wrote, taught and preached and has put his own perspective on it. I can see this in a number of areas:
• Re-emphasizing a preferential love (concern) for the poor
• Calling us in the West to re-think our social and economic priorities
• Reminding Christians of the Gospel message and the joy that should be present in our preaching (or living) it
• Prompting Christians to utilize or employ mercy and compassion in our relationships with others
• Repeating our call to stewardship of the world’s resources. The world and its resources are not mine or yours but ours, all of ours!
To me it seems not only is he calling all of us to do this but he is living out the message, he’s leading by example. He seems to be trying to chart a course or direction for the Church that some may say is radical but to me is really applying the message of Jesus to the situations found in the world, just as the early Church missionaries did.
What do you think?
• What are your impressions of Pope Francis so far?
• What do you understand Pope Francis’ vision to be?
• Where do you see Pope Francis’ vision leading the Church?
• Do you think that Pope Francis’ vision will bring about positive change in the Church? Why/Why not?
• Do you think that Pope Francis’ vision can or will be maintained and continue? Why/Why not?