Friday, October 04, 2013

Francis: the Saint and the Pope

"Francis, rebuild my Church." Words that changed the world.
St Francis
Detail of an altarpiece from the
Walters Museum of Art
(used under Creative Commons License).

Today's feast of St. Francis is especially significant, since Pope Francis has chosen to spend this first "Name Day" with his eight Cardinal-collaborators in Assisi (a city he has never visited before). "This," he said about his associates, "is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down, but also horizontal."

With the upcoming [today? this weekend?] release of his encyclical on poverty and the interview published earlier this week, the Holy Father is, as it were, setting up a classroom. We might find the key to his lesson in his words to the unbelieving journalist, Eugenio Scalfari about his patron:

St. "Francis wanted a mendicant [dependent on alms] order and a traveling one. Missionaries who wanted to meet, listen, talk, help, to spread faith and love. Especially love. And he dreamed of a poor Church that would take care of others, which would receive material aid and use it to support others, with no concern for itself. 800 years have passed and times have changed a lot, but the ideal of a missionary, poor Church is still more than valid. That is still the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached about."

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