The reader who sent me this noted: “This is incredible for a Boston Globe editorial.”
It comes from columnist Alex Beam. Details:
Pope Francis (real name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio) has shaken up the Catholic church with some plain speaking about faith and about life in the 21st century. He has had an impact on other faiths, as well. Welcome to “pope envy.”
I first encountered the term in an essay by Jana Riess, a liberal Mormon writer. “I’ve delighted in seeing this beautiful revitalization of hope in the Catholic Church,” Riess wrote, “but I’ve also felt twinges of (an admittedly un-Christian) envy.”
Why wouldn’t a Mormon, or anyone for that matter, envy the un-self-conscious spiritual leadership of a prelate who warns nuns that there is more to the monastic life than just smiling for God, and who sneaks out of the Vatican, disguised as a parish priest, to minister to the homeless?
Furthermore, as Riess notes, Francis is very much out there in the real world. The Mormons’ “Prophet, Seer and Revelator,” 86-year-old Thomas Monson, chosen by seniority rather than by merit, “is unusual in his distance from the public, the media, and his own followers,” she writes. In Monson’s rare appearances, “almost nothing was unscripted. He does not do press conferences, and seldom fields unexpected questions.”
…At times, he seems to yak on about whatever comes to his mind, just as you and I do. He has said that he lives in a hotel rather than in the isolated papal apartments “for psychiatric reasons.”
Francis plays odd pranks, dispensing rosary beads packaged as pharmaceuticals, or donning a clown’s nose. I don’t know why he acts this way — because he feels like it?
Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin recently evinced some ecumenical envy in the Jewish Daily Forward. After calling Francis “the most ‘Jewish’ pope we have ever encountered,” Salkin went on to praise Bergoglio’s literacy, compassion, and his outreach to Jews in his native Argentina.
“It is enough to create pope envy,” Salkin wrote.