I Like This Pope

by Bill Brenner on June 25, 2013

As a Catholic who has rebelled against the political structure of the Church, I gotta say this new Pope is giving me a lot of hope. Francis is turning out to be a rebel in his own right, shunning the trappings of power and putting the focus squarely back on Jesus, where it belongs.

Mood music:

The latest example: Pope Francis skipped a concert over the weekend where he was to be the guest of honor. On the surface, some could see it as a snub, the act of an ungrateful person. But cut through all that and the message he was sending is clear: He’s going to focus on the people’s business, not spend his hours drinking in all the pomp and opulence the Church likes to bathe itself in.

Here’s how Reuters descrbed the no-show:

Minutes before the concert was due to start, an archbishop told the crowd of cardinals and Italian dignitaries that an “urgent commitment that cannot be postponed” would prevent Francis from attending.

The prelates, assured that health was not the reason for the no-show, looked disoriented, realizing that the message he wanted to send was that, with the Church in crisis, he — and perhaps they — had too much pastoral work to do to attend social events. …

The day before the concert, Francis said bishops should be “close to the people” and not have “the mentality of a prince.”

It’s also worth noting that since his election on March 13, Francis hasn’t spent a single night in the papal apartments, which is known for its grandeur. Instead, he sleeps “in a small suite in a busy Vatican guest house,” according to Reuters, “where he takes most meals in a communal dining room.”

The Reuters story notes how the bishops were left disoriented by the no-show, with one Vatican source saying, “We are still in a period of growing pains. He is still learning how to be pope and we are still learning how he wants to do it.”

The Vatican may indeed be struggling to learn how Francis wants to do things. But I think he sent them a clear message. As for Francis learning to be Pope, I think he’s got it figured out. It’s just not the way the old, complacent power structure wants it. My prayer is that they will learn and fall in line.

A lot of evil has attached itself to the Catholic Church over the years, and I’ve struggled to stay faithful. I do so by always remembering that my beliefs are centered on Jesus and how he gave sinners like me another chance to get things right. My faith has never been tied to the random and intolerant rules of the Holy See.

The sex abuse scandal tested my faith, as has the often-hateful messages toward gays.

You could say I need a pope like Francis. I hope this fresh approach of his continues.

Pope Francis Archbishop Rino Fisichella reads a message from Pope Francis before a RAI National Symphony Orchestra concert in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (photo credit: Reuters)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole June 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. I was raised Baptist and converted to Catholicism in college, but have since left the Church and now attend the UCC church, where I am a member. It’s the openness and focus on love, acceptance and justice that drew me to my new home church.

However, since the election of Pope Francis, I’ve been reading about Catholicism and contemplating attending Mass sometimes. Perhaps Pope Francis will be the man to help turn things around so people like me will be able to again see the beauty of the Catholic Church rather than the closed-mindedness and exclusion.

David Miller August 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I think it can be too easy to focus on the negative things of ourbeautiful church. The media has certainly fuelled a lot of it in my country. Of course thre have been horrible things happen and we should do whatever it takes to stop these. But abuses have happened in many other organisations. With over one billion followers the cc was bound to have its fair share. Let us be proud of the 100s of milllion decent Jesus loving and fathful Christians.

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