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Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'

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  • Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Inside the Pope's gentle revolution





    Nearly every Wednesday in Rome, the faithful and the curious gather in St. Peter's Square for a general audience with the pope. Since the election of the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio last March, attendance at papal events has tripled to 6.6 million. On a recent chilly morning in December, the thousands of amassed pilgrims appear to gleam in the sunlight, covering the square like a pixelated carpet. Maybe it's all the smartphones raised to the heavens.

    Up close, Pope Francis, the 266th vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, a man whose obvious humility, empathy and, above all, devotion to the economically disenfranchised has come to feel perfectly suited to our times, looks stouter than on television. Having famously dispensed with the more flamboyant pontifical accessories, he's also surprisingly stylish, today wearing a double-breasted white overcoat, white scarf and slightly creamier cassock, all impeccably tailored.

    The topic of Francis' catechesis, or teaching, is Judgment Day, though, true to form, he does not try to conjure images of fire and brimstone. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, speaking on the topic, once said, "Today we are used to thinking: 'What is sin? God is great, he understands us, so sin does not count; in the end God will be good toward all.' It's a nice hope. But there is justice, and there is real blame."

    Francis, 77, by contrast, implores the crowd to think of the prospect of meeting one's maker as something to look forward to, like a wedding, where Jesus and all of the saints in heaven will be waiting with open arms. He looks up from his script twice to repeat key lines: avanti senza paura ("go without fear") and che quel giudizio finale è già in atto ("the final judgment is already happening"). Coming from this pope, the latter point sounds more like a friendly reminder. His voice is disarmingly gentle, even when amplified over a vast public square.

    Eventually, he moves to greet the crowd. Benedict, a dour academic, kept this portion of the general audience to a minimum. But Francis, like Bill Clinton, thrives on personal contact, and he spends the better part of an hour greeting believers. Next to the dais, a rowdy hometown team of Italians, a couple of whom spoke loudly on their cellphones throughout the pope's sermon, have their cameras out like paparazzi. "Papa Francesco! Papa Francesco!" they shout, shrilly and incessantly, trying to get the Holy Father of the Catholic Church to gaze in their direction. The most shameless hold up children. "Papa Francesco!" they cry. "I bambini! I bambini!"

    It's a funny thing, papal celebrity. As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio had never been an especially gifted public speaker. But now that he's Pope Francis, his recognizable humanity comes off as positively revolutionary. Against the absurd, impossibly baroque backdrop of the Vatican, a world still run like a medieval court, Francis' election represents what his friend Elisabetta Piqué, an Argentine journalist who has known him for a decade, calls "a scandal of normality." Since his election last March, Francis has consistently confounded expectations with the simplest of gestures: surprising desk clerks at the hotel where he'd been staying during the papal conclave by showing up to pay his own bill; panicking bodyguards by swigging from a cup of maté (the highly caffeinated tealike beverage popular throughout South America) handed to him by a stranger during a visit to Brazil; cracking up cardinals with jokes at his own expense hours after being elected (to those assembled at his first official dinner as pope, he deadpanned, "May God forgive you for what you've done").
    Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

    Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

  • #2
    If only he could run with Hillary on the democrat ticket.
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

    Comment


    • #3
      Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

      Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

      Comment


      • #4
        It's unfortunate that the writers chose to politicize in such an American way the new Pontiff. He deserves much better than that.
        Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
        Robert Southwell, S.J.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
          It's unfortunate that the writers chose to politicize in such an American way the new Pontiff. He deserves much better than that.
          I just thought it was cool he was on the cover of Rolling Stone. I haven't read the article.
          Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

          Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
            I just thought it was cool he was on the cover of Rolling Stone. I haven't read the article.
            Definitely cool, but the article itself is fairly sophomoric...which must be a sign of how old I am getting.
            Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
            Robert Southwell, S.J.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
              Definitely cool, but the article itself is fairly sophomoric...which must be a sign of how old I am getting.
              It's Rolling Stone. Of course it's sophomoric.
              It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
              In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
              Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
              Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Adam View Post
                It's Rolling Stone. Of course it's sophomoric.
                Since I was hipster before there was such a thing, and was the first off the hipster train when in left the station, I was always a Spin reader, anyway.
                Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                Comment


                • #9
                  If more people listen to his message, that's awesome!
                  "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind : which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason, and so cannot be opposite to it."
                  -John Locke

                  "It's all been melded together into one giant, authoritarian, leftist scream."
                  -Newman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Popes have been viewed in any number of ways and they've been used to prop up, crush, or reinterpret any number of viewpoints over the centuries. Some of those guys were smart, virtuous, holy, vicious, dupes, or dummies.

                    No offense to the Catholics here but your particular moral and doctrinal views probably shouldn't be conflated with the personal popularity of any of your leaders with atheists and agnostics in the popular press.

                    I don't know if that advances your cause in any way or if sometimes just dilutes your teaching.
                    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
                      Popes have been viewed in any number of ways and they've been used to prop up, crush, or reinterpret any number of viewpoints over the centuries. Some of those guys were smart, virtuous, holy, vicious, dupes, or dummies.

                      No offense to the Catholics here but your particular moral and doctrinal views probably shouldn't be conflated with the personal popularity of any of your leaders with atheists and agnostics in the popular press.

                      I don't know if that advances your cause in any way or if sometimes just dilutes your teaching.
                      I wholeheartedly agree with that. While it's nice to have some positive attitudes about the Catholic Church and her teachings, it is tiresome to me to have the current leader held up as some kind of anomaly, as it just shows, to me, the misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine in general. I found this article especially abhorrent in its desire to paint Pope Benedict as a villain and use that to prop up the current positive feelings about Pope Francis.
                      Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
                      Robert Southwell, S.J.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
                        I wholeheartedly agree with that. While it's nice to have some positive attitudes about the Catholic Church and her teachings, it is tiresome to me to have the current leader held up as some kind of anomaly, as it just shows, to me, the misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine in general. I found this article especially abhorrent in its desire to paint Pope Benedict as a villain and use that to prop up the current positive feelings about Pope Francis.
                        This comes back, I think, to the Vatican II ideas about ecumenism. It was a mistake to let Protestants and others have a say in that process so now there is an expectation that the more ecumenical a pontiff is, the more "legitimate" he is. This idea would be absurd in any other context.

                        You are a better vegetarian because your spokesperson eats fish. You are a better feminist because your spokesperson is a stripper. You are a better pacifist because your spokesperson does Taekwondo. Any of those arguments can be made but are they "right" within the context of those ideas? Probably not.
                        "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I like that he irritates the self righteous.
                          Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                          Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Billy Jingo View Post
                            I like that he irritates the self righteous.
                            They all do. The only difference is which self-righteous group.
                            "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gingersnap View Post
                              They all do. The only difference is which self-righteous group.
                              Yours.
                              Colonel Vogel : What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?

                              Professor Henry Jones : It tells me, that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try *reading* books instead of *burning* them!

                              Comment

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