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Friday, July 26, 2013

My Third Pope is Like What?

Sure, I'm a convert, but I don't think that this fact comes into play for anyone in their mid-forties or under: Pope Francis is the third pope of our generation. And he's the first one not to fit into the neo-conservative, anti-spirit-of-Vatican-2 pope our very faith has come to rely upon, unfortunately. Sure he's orthodox - all popes are by definition - that's not my point. The point is, he's the first non-Ratzinger pope we've ever known, and we are having trouble making sense of that. The papal atmosphere that JP II and B XVI evoked doesn't seem to be present in our current Holy Father. Something else is. I know it's good, but I just don't know what it is! He is a great and loving man, but seems much more mortal than the previous two. Of course, he is making it difficult (on purpose, I believe - good for you, Holy Father!) for his Vatican handlers to create a pristine papal image for.

But of course, in the end, a simplistic view of the papacy is much easier to maintain with only two popes to fit into your mold than it is with three. I accept that the Holy Spirit is doing great things in Pope Francis. These simply don't fit the saint-theologian mold that I have constructed over these twenty or so years. Thank you, God, for this!

Maybe I am just growing up as a Catholic? I am moving beyond the superlative stage of my faith-life? You know what I mean, the need to have all aspects of your faith magnified: JP II was the most 'seen' human being in history, he is John Paul 'the Great', Ratzinger was the greatest pope-theologian since Gregory the Great, the Catholic Church is the oldest continuous institution in human history, the Catholic Religion is the largest in the world, our doctors of the Church are the smartest human beings in history, Catholic art and literature is greater than... you know the need for this kind of thing.

Certainly, Pope Francis is hard to fit into superlatives. He is the most South American pope ever... Don't you see, though, that this kind of thinking is not from God? The Holy Father's heart is pure and good. And even if it weren't, we'd still be obliged to say, thank-you, God, for Your tender mercies!
Pope Inauguration

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