The Holy Father’s interview published today is the first time we’ve had a chance for an in depth look at the man. One of the frustrating things about his papacy so far is that it has been big on dramatic gestures and small on content. There’s not anything wrong with that. He clearly prefers the off the cuff remark and the spontaneous homily to the careful, well thought out theological treatise. It is also true that he has the style of a prophet, and prophets are good at preaching through dramatic gestures and actions as well as words.
His interview reveals a simple man of the poor–a compassionate and humble man who has people as the heart of his concern. He wishes for a church that is outgoing, creative and risk taking. He wants a gospel that is lived in a compassionate, forgiving and Christ-like manner. He pushes against a Catholicism that is legalistic, puritanical and condemnatory. He wants a church that reaches out to the poor, the rejected and the forgotten. He wants to show a church that loves the sinner.
All this is well and good, but I have some worries. Every pope is both empowered and limited by his own history and culture. Pope Francis is from a generation and a culture which is Catholic. For the most part everyone is Catholic. They understand the basics of Christian morality and the fundamentals of the Christian story and the basic elements of the Catholic faith. Too often, however, that Catholic culture was impeded by a Church that had become overly clericalized, legalistic, condemnatory and hide bound.
Francis’ message to that kind of Catholic culture and that kind of Catholic Church is sharp and necessary. It’s fresh, creative and powerful. He’s basically saying, “Get out of your churchiness and get into the streets. Be with the people and share your faith together and bring Christ to those who have forgotten how to find him in the church.” As such his message is relevant and vital for the Church in South America and Central America where Catholics are being wooed away by Evangelicals who do present a vital, relevant and compassionately involved message.”
Read the rest here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2013/09/poking-the-pope.html