I! Am so! Excited! I know that information about Pope Francis (squeee!) is pouring in from all sides, so here are just a few of the things that got my attention and have won my heart entirely:
1. His very apparent genuine concern for the poor and helpless seems to include a special tenderness for women. Look at him as Archbishop washing the feet of this new mother in a maternity hospital:
and here, from a recent AP profile, is what he has said about baptizing the children of single moms:
“In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage,” Bergoglio told his priests. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!”
Bergoglio compared this concept of Catholicism to the Pharisees of Christ’s time: people who congratulate themselves while condemning others.
“Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit,”
2. Of course he has his detractors on both sides, liberal and ultraconservative. I'm hearing, from people who appear to be trying to make a joke, "Well, at least he's pretty old!" Note to all: Hoping your new pope will die soon? Ptooi. Got to confession asap, and I mean it. Well, this is still the papamoon, and I don't want to wreck it by being catty, so let me just pass along this Chesterton quote (via, of course, Mark Shea):
If you hear a thing being accused of being too tall and too short, too red and too green, too bad in one way and too bad also in the opposite way, then you may be sure that it is very good.
3. Gosh, I love clarity. It appears to flow from Francis like water. He's really clear, for instance, about not giving communion to people who are openly in dissent. For anyone who's unclear about the principle, it's not about being strict and mean and hogging God for the elite and their sheeple. No, withholding the Eucharist from public sinners is a win-win-win situation: it protects Our Lord from unworthy reception, it makes it clear to the would-be communicant (and anyone else who knows about it) that the Chruch means what she says; and it rescues the would-be communicant from the mortal sin of unworthy reception of the Eucharist. I wonder what will happen when Joe Biden makes his official visit?
4. Apparently this Franciscan "No thanks, I'm fine, I'll just hop on this bus" thing from his days as Archbishop
is not a fluke.
After he was done meeting the people at St. Peter's Square yesterday, he took the bus home. When he was already pope. And then this morning, he snuck out to fulfill a promise to pray at Maria Maggiore, where Ignatius of Loyola said his first Mass. HA. This kills me, that he just goes. How did this happen? Did he insist and kick up a fuss until they let him do it his way, or did he just slip away? Talk about Vatileaks! Whoops, there goes the Pope again! He moves pretty fast for a guy with one lung.
5. This going where he wants to go to do what he needs to do is clearly not a fluke, either. Here, from a pre-conclave profile, is what he says about his approach, in a broader sense:
It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.
6. His smile. No, really! I know, we're seeing a lot of stiff and dour photos from yesterday, but cut the guy some slack. That was a really rough day. It seems like he had a good night and is feeling much better today:
7. Truly, I'd like to say that he's captured my heart with his deep humility, his unflinching orthodoxy, and his lifelong service to the poor, and his obvious determination to put his shoulder to the grindstone and, like his patron Francis of Assisi, rebuild the Church; but this is what sold me:
Pope Francis, future patron saint of the socially awkward. Oh, how we've needed you!
Hey, if you're interested in pawing through his disastrous reactions or shameful non-reactions to your favorite historical document, or if suddenly you're willing to pretend you're an instant expert on the Dirty War and if you had been Archbishop of Argentina, then this is how you would have done, then be my guest. I, for one, am going to bask in the joy and excitement of getting to know our new pope. We've got plenty of time ahead of us, and if these first days are any indication, he is going to keep us on our toes. Viva il Papa!