A reader remarks on Pope Francis

Refreshing Mark, though I’m sure you’ve read the original ages ago

Pope Francis: neither a liberal nor a conservative, but a radical Christian with a heroic gospel

Pope Francis is a beguiling, confusing pontif. Some in the media imagine him to be Fr Liberal, parachuting into the slums to feed the hungry and chastise the rich. Others regard him as positively medieval – all that crazy talk about demons and exorcisms (“The power of Christ compels you!”). He’s a New World man doing the oldest job in the Old World; an Argentine with Italian blood who doesn’t like Latin. He writes very little yet talks incessantly. He is, one Left-wing journalist reassures the obsessive critics of the Church, still a Catholic. That’s a relief, because traditionalists tell me that we’ve elected a Buddhist.

Then a chance click on a blog by Alejandro Bermúdez, head of the Catholic News Agency, leant me a fascinating insight into his intellectual character. During his first homily, Pope Francis quoted the 19th century French convert Léon Bloy. And it’s a striking quote:

When one does not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the expression of Léon Bloy: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.’ When one does not confess Jesus Christ, one confesses the worldliness of the devil.

Oh my! To anyone who doubts Pope Francis’ orthodoxy, there it is in black and white. God is a reality and to reject him is to embrace the only real alternative – the devil. Note that it’s “the devil” with a small “d”, because he’s much smaller than God and cannot possibly win the Final Battle between the two. Satan is a pipsqueak and a born loser, and you’d have to be pretty dumb to pick him for an ally.

…but it’s never past it’s “sell by date”.

Once again a nod to the Catholic ‘both/and’, to the inability to make a boxed definition of the man & office who is Peter for our time.

For me a more than gentle nudge to my own complacency.

Actually, I hadn’t seen this particular piece, but I like it.  It captures yet again the Chestertonian fact that authentica Catholic faith is neither fish nor fowl.  Often the world reacts to this fact by complaining that the Church is too conservative or too liberal, too masculine or too feminine, too round and too square, etc.  Now and then, though, a Catholic catches the attention and admiration of the world–for a time.  Francis has done so with his obvious personal goodness and evangelical love of the poor.  It’s a grace I’m glad of, even though I know that the world wobbles and has a genius for moving from “Hosanna” to “Crucify!” in a New York Minute.  Still, “Hosanna” is the proper response to the presence of God and it’s nice to see Him acknowledged if only for a moment.


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