This is a good, though-provoking post and I hope she is right:
Francis is making a point that needs making, and he is doing it by simply being who he is. I think he really is that humble, and since he is no idiot, I believe he is aware that, to an extent, when he puts off the “trappings of the office” he is raising eyebrows. The reality, though, is that Francis is only putting into action what his predecessor taught.
The eyebrow-raising may be necessary if, as I suspect, Francis is engaging in a long strategy of change and renewal — an action begun by Benedict XVI when he announced his resignation. Benedict knew the world had stopped paying attention, so he did the one thing that could get its attention — its serious attention. In so doing, he gave the Holy Spirit room to move.
Now that the church has the world’s attention — and the Holy Spirit has that room to move — Francis is quickly taking away every superficial objection to the church, and thus exposing the world and its sneers to be the empty, profitless kvetching it is:
“You didn’t like Peter in red shoes? Here is Peter in black. You didn’t like Peter in brocade? Here is Peter looking kind of disheveled. You didn’t like Peter being shy and standoffish? Here is Peter hopping down to kiss the face of a deformed man whose existance makes you uncomfortable — whose life you would deem of insufficient use and quality to be sustained! We Catholics know well enough to be careful what we ask for; you asked for this and you got it — now deal with it when I uphold church teachings you will still hate and resent, only by then you won’t be able to hide behind a contrived “righteous indignation” on behalf of the poor; then you will have to admit to the reality of all you hate. Then, you will have to look inward, to the poverty within your own soul, and you will have to decide who and what you will serve, stripped of all illusions, unprotected by shabbily-erected narratives.”
Practically from the moment he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s, gazing with remarkable placidity upon the throng before him, it has been clear that this pope is a spiritual brawler — to the world, a quiet menace, because a spiritual brawler will smile and offer you nothing but ferocious tenderness, the kind that will impact, repeatedly, on the solar plexus, until we are breathless and ready for mercy. The world needs precisely this sort of pummeling — anything besides tenderness, and its guard would be forever up.
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