Wednesday, October 02, 2013

5 Rules for Reading Pope Francis: Rule #1

It's all still so new: a Pope who calls people from his own cell phone; off-the-cuff interviews (during which he makes sure his guest has coffee--or water, as the case may be); the mad scramble afterwards to get to the heart of the message. After yesterday's marathon, I think we need to establish some ground rules.

Here's Rule #1: Get used to it.

Right now things feel a bit like that little pirogue I paddled off in one fine summer morning when I was a postulant home for a family visit. I pulled away from the shore to make my meditation in the gently rocking vessel. But by the time my meditation was complete, the lake was starting to roil, and I was not entirely confident that I could actually control the thing and get back to our campsite. That meditation time I enjoyed on the calm waters corresponds to the gentle pontificate of Pope Benedict. With Francis, instead, we have someone who plunges into the water yelling, "Cannonball!"

The interview published in yesterday's "La Repubblica" wasn't the first headline-generating papal interview (even Benedict pulled one of his own a few years back: remember the "condom" headlines?). It certainly won't be the last: Francis promised La Repubblica's Scalfari a follow-up conversation on women in the Church.

The waves are stirred; everyone takes notice. What are you going to do now? Smack the irrepressible pontiff upside the head with an oar so you can continue your quiet meditation, or accept the invitation to jump in with him?

I know what I'm going to do.



stormy said...

Sr. Anne, Just wanted to tell you that you are my #1 hope for help in saving my soul amoung humans here on this earth.Thank you for your ministry,your blog,your instruction,and putting yourself out there.If ever i had a human guardian angel type,you would be it.

Yaya said...

Since I am a Spanish speaker, I relate to Papa Francis and like his style. I liked Papa Benedict too but was not paying much attention much to my detriment.
Now? I am paying attention to both and praying for them both and like you, I am jumping in and going along to learn, to grow, and to love!

Gracias, Sister Anne!

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thanks, Stormy and Yaya! And above all, thanks and praise to the Holy Spirit who is showing us that God's workings are not bound to the human limitations of the past--although I rather suspect that what we are seeing in Papa Bergoglio is a return to the approach St Peter himself probably had in his own pastoral ministry in Rome. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

If he does continue like this, I think people will start to lose interest after a while. The novelty will wear off. It might be a good thing, though, since these interviews seem to be a source of confusion as well as enlightenment. I hope he can start to speak with greater clarity. Perception is everything. Most people are not going to dig into Church documents or the Catechism to see that what's he's saying is perfectly fine. When I see Obama is praising Pope Francis' remarks on not "obsessing" over abortion, etc., I feel a little sick.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

I'm sure we'll find that clarity in his documents and speeches, but I doubt he is going to change his conversational style any time soon.
Meanwhile, here's Archbishop Chaput weighing in from Philadelphia:

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Is this what you're feeling, too? "Seriously, I’m beginning to feel like all I do is read, write, and dialogue about Francis, all day long and all night"
The post includes a link to a ton of good reflections on the week's portion from Pope Francis.
PLUS, Vatican Press Spokesman "Father Lombardi said that the pastoral care of families is the next major point of discussion in upcoming sessions" of the Pope with his handpicked advisory team of Cardinals: