Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Good and Truly Decent Man

"Well, there was the time somebody passed me a zucchetto with a note inside. It said 'Back off or else', and it was composed of letters cut and pasted from L'Osservatore Romano."
"I blessed it and tossed it back. As for the Curia, let them complain. There are plenty of parishes in mission territory that need priests."
"It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. A car is necessary to do a lot of work but, please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world."
"A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' We must always consider the person."
"I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being."
Pope Francis
Pope washes feet of disabled, including elderly Muslim
Pope Francis kissing the foot of a man as he performs the traditional “Washing of the feet". AFP/PHOTO
"I have even heard people say 'We are praying for him (Francis) to die as soon as possible'. That is wicked -- but such people think they are Christians."
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga
Half of the world's Catholics live in Latin America. And it emerged that thousands of Latin American priests, in response to the endemic poverty they saw around them, engaged in social activism, what was called 'Liberation Theology', in efforts to aid the poor, and in their attempts to change the social order to more closely reflect the Christian vision of equality. This kind of activism was seen through the dark lens of religious disorder by the Vatican and it was disallowed.

Pope John Paul informed bishops that violence and Marxism were anathema to the Church. And that was that. There were certainly hints that the current Pope was engaged in social activism and was himself involved in liberation theology, dedicated to social equality and opportunities to advance the fortunes of all. He had always himself avoided pomp, and he has brought his view of how the Church should disport itself into the Vatican, living modestly and behaving at all times with humility.

In the course of his ministrations and activities within the Church he has defied convention and decried the penchant of some of the priests within the Church to live lavishly, to separate themselves from the people, to consider themselves exceptionally entitled to goods and services because of the exalted role they imagine themselves to be performing in service to the Church and to Roman Catholicism. He is, in fact, quite an exception to the prevailing norm.

And he's done it again, for Easter, in going to a centre for the disabled and the elderly in Rome, where he knelt, washed, dried and kissed the feet of a dozen people some seated in wheelchairs, and some of them women; one a Muslim. To those who protested that he was insulting papal tradition, that the 'regulations' were that the ritual be performed on men only, in reflection of the 12 male apostles who served Christ, he responded: "Jesus made a gesture a job, the service of a slave, a servant. And he leaves this inheritance to us: we need to be servants to one another."

In this instance, he repeated what he had done a year ago, two weeks following his elevation as the first ever-elected Jesuit-trained pope, when he visited a juvenile detention centre and performed the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual on women and Muslin inmates. He sees his mission as serving all people, with equal fervour and devotion. The extravagance the Vatican is known for does not impress him; he focuses on global issues like poverty.

He eschews the popemobile in favour of a 1984 Renault with over 300,000 kilometres to its tired credit. He lives not in the lavish papal quarters but in a modest apartment meant for visitors. Instead of the richly embroidered and costly garments worn by popes, he favours a simple white cassock. His needs are modest and he bristles with revulsion when he learns of bishops living in luxurious mansions, using parishioners' gifts to the church to fund their style of living.

This man, so close to the god he serves, is a man of the people. So odd it is that he was in fact, elevated to the position bringing him so close to the divine. Such a removal in and of itself, from tradition.

In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis touches an amphora containing holy oil during the mass

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