Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meet the Popes: #266: Francis 2013- Currently reigning


When white smoke emerged from the Vatican chimney on March 13th 2013, speculation immediately began about which of the 20 or so Papabile would step out onto the loggia presently.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was on almost nobody's radar  but when he stepped out and waved, he was endeared to almost everybody.

 Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on December 17th 1936, in Buenos Aires , Argentina.  He is the first Pope to come from the New World.  he is also the first Pope of the Order of the Society off Jesus, colloquially known as the Jesuits.

He ascended to the Papacy on March  2013, after the conclave subsequent to the resignation of his predecessor Benedict XVI, and immediately rocked the world as he put his imprimatur on the office he holds, and thus, the Universal Church in general.

As he has been Pope for three years, much of his story remains unwritten as of yet. Nevertheless, even if it is a short Papacy,  the “Francis effect” will be felt for many years to come.

Pope Francis has been labelled by many as a liberal, and by others, mainly of a Traditionalist bent, as a heretic, or even an Antipope, some questioning the legitimacy of his reign, but if one examines things objectively  he has not made a single change in Church teaching, though he has clearly endeavoured to change the approach the Church takes, so that the Church and secular society will  be ina better position to dialogue.


One of his first and most controversial acts as Pope was the foot washing on Maundy Thursday, where he went to a youth detention center and  washed the feet of 12 young people, two of whom were girls, and two of whom were Muslim.  This is the first time a pope had washed the feet of any but men, although he had been known to include women while Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

That being said he has re-iterated the Church’s traditional stands on abortion, homosexual acts, marriage, contraception, the nature of the priesthood and other issues.  He has also been very vocal on the matter of the death penalty in keeping with the views of John Paul II.  What he has changed is the way the church expresses itself on these issues.
He has been accused of being soft on abortion and contraception, but what was actually said was that the Church must not limit itself exclusively to these issues, but rather go back to some of the things the church had long been involved with , such as calling for good environmental stewardship, solicitude for the poor, infirm and suffering, and mercy and forgiveness.

He has been busy on the diplomatic front as well, helping to broker the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, and also engaging in dialogue with the leadership of other faiths.
If one takes the position that the Church must engage with the world in order to evangelize, then Francis emphasis  on a pastoral approach with a heavy dose of Divine Mercy may well be just what is needed for our times, and “the New Evangelization” which seeks to reach out to both fallen away Catholics, and to a lost world.  In a world where the art of dialogue, which involves bot speaking and listening with a view to understanding, rather than to reply.  By creating an environment where a sinner can come to find answers, while feeling welcomed and unjudged, but where the church does nit compromise on age-old teachings, we reach a point where  reason and faith can meet, and hearts can be won.


What we have is a situation where we have returned to the era of the early Church, where a ragtag group of people’s hearts were changed, and they in turn converted a pagan culture through the witness of their lives, being in tune with the teachings of Christ, as transmitted through the Apostles appointed by Him, and then passed on to the people, who through faith saw lives changed.  Today, we live in a postmodern culture which is for all intents and purposes, pagan.  It is a society where authority, especially where morals are concerned are rejected out of hand, and where what passes for reason excludes faith, just like it was in Roman times, so it stands to reason that change will come through the changed lives that result from faith in Jesus Christ, and the application of His teachings, and through the telling of His stories.  In other words, BE like Jesus, the Jesus the Church has transmitted to us since the first Good Friday.  The early Church was Catholic, as all historical documents tell us, and it will be the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, that can and will transform the world again.

Pope Francis is engaging the world directly. He is appealing to youth, as it will be the youth that will transform the world of the future, It will be interesting to watch the changes that take place as the message sinks in and the fruit ripens.

Next Pope: #265 Benedict XVI (Pope Emeritus)  2005-2013

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