Thursday, October 3, 2013


There is a legend that Pope John XXIII (soon to be saint it seems) was asked the question, "How many people work at the Vatican," and he replied, "About half."  Whether the stuff of legend or not, might it not shed some light on a current comment by our current pontiff? 
My sister was somewhat upset that Pope Francis was going to do away with the "court" aspect of the Vatican.  I think she interpreted that to mean that he is doing away with all that is dignified about the Vatican and indeed the pope does seem to tend toward the more simple yet elegant.  But I don't think that is that to which this current statement refers.  It seems to lean toward those who hang around the Vatican like courtiers of a king or queen who seem to make do by their association with "the court" rather than actually doing anything beneficial.  I picture Pope Francis with a broom and taking it to the backside of some idle flatterer drinking his espresso in the papal palace (where the pope himself has refused to sleep) and saying, "Get out there!  DO something!  This is about the people, particularly those in need!  Not hanging around the house drinking my coffee and sleeping in until all hours!"  (This, I hope, is a grave hyperbole, but you get my point.)
All sorts of popes have reforms; reforms of the clergy, reforms of the liturgy, and now we will have a reform of Vatican life particularly the bank!  The problem is that we do not exactly know what is changing or why and that can be scary. 
I recently was in a beautiful church in Ontario and there was scaffolding up in the nave.  "What's going on here?" I asked what turned out to be the maintenance man.
"Oh, they're redoing the church."
"Are the renovating or restoring?"
He thought about it a little bit and then said, "I think renovating."
What does that mean?  Are they painting and fixing up or are they replacing the pews with prayer mats and hanging lava lamps from ceiling?  I have no idea and if it were my parish, I would be nervous about not knowing.
So if you read something about the pope that makes you nervous (and there are plenty of nervous - and some excited,)  PLEASE do not take what you are reading in the paper is the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.  There are so many places to look on line to find the complete statement and in context. 


Anonymous said...

Good words, Father. Yes, I have begun actually reading the complete interviews of Pope Francis and you will find that the media has completely twisted his words to fit their agenda. Can't say I'm surprised...

Anonymous said...

name one

Pat said...

Pope Francis, one commentator said, is speaking to a wider audience--the unchurched--and trying to draw them in.

Despite our legitimate concerns regarding media distortion (remember BXVI's Regensburg speech, anyone? or his comment about condom usage in Africa???), Pope Francis' words cause many of us to want to openly talk about Church teaching--and desire our clergy to do so, as well.

Sarah said...

The following were recommended to me, I hope you find one or more to be insightful:


MaryofSharon said...

After reading the original interviews, I think I've read about 50 articles. Reading the commentary of thoughtful, prominent Catholics has been of inestimable help.

One of the most helpful articles for me:
George Weigel. The Christ-Centered Pope: The Catholic Church and the world wrestle with an evangelical papacy National Review Online. (September 20, 2013)

Some of the best of the best, selected by Catholic Education Resource Center for republishing:

Francis Cardinal George. On listening to the pope. Catholic New World. (September 29, 2013)

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. "Pope Francis and 'The Interview'." (September 25, 2013).

Janet Smith. Are we obsessed? First Things. (September 25, 2013)

On the second interview:
Robert Royal. "The Heart of Bergoglio". The Catholic Thing. (October 2, 2013)

Finally, here are two amazing interviews that show how the Holy Father's words are impacting those outside the Church in a very good way. In these interviews, Fr. Jonathan Morris, FOX News religion correspondent, tells of the reaction to the Holy Father from his sister who recently married a woman.

Fr. Jonathan Morris on Fox News about Pope's Interview #1
Fr. Jonathan Morris on Fox News about Pope's Interview #2

A remarkable thing to note here is that his sister understands and appreciates that the Pope is not compromising on orthodoxy, but her experience of his love and mercy still opens long-closed doors in her heart.

MaryofSharon said...

Whoops, missed the link on that one:

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. "Pope Francis and 'The Interview'." (September 25, 2013).

Anonymous said...

HE SAYS . . . "there are so many places to look online to find the complete statement"

I SAY . . . WHERE?

MaryofSharon said...

The complete first interview is at American Magazine: A Big Heart Open to God.

Then the most recent interview is at La Repubblica: The Pope: how the Church will change

I have to say that for me, reading the interviews was necessary, but not sufficient. It really helped me to read commentary from Catholic sources that I trust to help me understand the meaning and the background of what he said.