Pope Francis Essay

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SALES, ARIANE MAE H.
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“POPE FRANCIS”

A dear friend called yesterday and reminded me of something I had almost forgotten. “So, based on these early days,” my friend said, “I am thinking you were a bit closer to the mind of the cardinals than George Weigel.” The reference was to the essays, published in the Wall Street Journal, by Mr. Weigel and myself, among others, in which we were asked to complete the sentence: “The new pope should be….” Mr. Weigel wrote that the new pope should be a culture warrior. I wrote that the new pope should be among the poor. So far, I am not picking up much in the way of “culture warrior,” are you? Yesterday, listening to the new pope’s sermon at St. Anne’s Church, I heard him warn us all about the temptation to put ourselves in the place of the man who stood in the front of the synagogue and said, “I thank thee Lord that I am not like other men.” Yet, that temptation seems to me to be at the heart of the culture war personality: I have the answers, anyone who disagrees is demonic and threatening the Church. The alternate path is to kneel at the back of the synagogue and say “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” This alternate path is one that is mostly left untrodden by some of our culture warrior bishops and commentators, no? Then, we saw something quite stunning. After the Mass, the new pope stood outside the church door and greeted the parishioners. He kissed the heads of the children, hugged some people – he likes to give and receive hugs – let those who wished kiss his ring but did not force it into people’s faces. He could have been almost any parish priest, greeting the flock after Mass. I suspect every parish priest on the planet felt a tsunami of affirmation watching the pope do what they do, recognizing the importance of friendship for the health of the Christian community. Again, this does not seem like culture warrior stuff to me. At least so far as I could see, Pope Francis did not wag his finger at anyone. He...

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