Short Term Memory Loss and Francis’ ‘Unique’ Humility…

Short Term Memory Loss and Francis’ ‘Unique’ Humility… July 10, 2013

… I do believe this is largely what I was referring to in my post a few days ago; how the media goes amazeballs [to quote a friend] over Pope Francis grandiose displays of humility – as if no pope before him had the same qualities or cared about the poor. Our Pope Francis is a fantastic guy, true enough, but he isn’t the only pope that exuded humbleness. This intentional short term memory loss is starting to feel more like the Cult of Francis and less like an embracing of Catholicism.

You can argue that it’s wonderful Pope Francis is attracting people to the faith that otherwise would not be attracted to it, those more social justice minded folks. And it is. My worry; however, is those very same people will very quickly become disenchanted with the Pope once they realize he’s not just all lover of the poor and Mr. Simplicity. He’s also had some very strong words against homosexual marriage and his stance is the same regarding abortion and lady priests. He’s not going to bring about the sweeping ‘reform’ social justic-y folks seem to generally advocate for.

That’s why all this media focus on Francis’ humility seems disingenuous. It’s not the Holy Father whose actions I question, because I truly believe he’s 100% genuine, it’s the intentions of the media and those who embrace him solely for his acts of public humility. That is what is troubling.

Jason Welle, SJ, has a well written article calling attention to this tendency we have at short term memory loss regarding the papacy. He writes;

Some exciting news to come from the Vatican: the pope invited the homeless over for lunch. Yes, amidst the opulence that is the Vatican, the bishop of Rome had opened his doors to over 200 of Rome’s homeless residents. Recognizing the solidarity of Christians with the poorest among us, he sat down to a shared meal at a table shared with a Muslim and an immigrant from China. Of course, religious (ahem) Vatican watchers weren’t surprised by Pope Benedict’s luncheon with the homeless, since he had visited a Roman soup kitchen not long before.

Wait a minute. Pope Benedict? Did you maybe think you were reading about a certain Pope Francis hosting a similar event this week? Because you might have read about his own invitation to the homeless, and a lunch hosted by a Vatican cardinal in his name.

Also, Pope Francis didn’t personally attend the luncheon but to the reporting agencies that apparently is neither here nor there.

While I did enjoy reading Mr. Welle’s article, you can’t help but get a sense of that ‘slight’ I was referring to when I wrote, “Every time I read about how humble Francis is I take it personally, as a slight meant to imply that his predecessor was some how not.”

Now I’m sure no slight was intended and I’m going to assume the best, that the author has equal affection for both Francis and Benedict. But yeah …

Nonetheless, Pope Francis really seems to to inspire an excitement that hasn’t been experienced in recent years, among believers and non-believers alike. I definitely share in this excitement. I’m curious about why that is, though. Do we really just have such a short memory that it seems like Francis doing something entirely novel?

My own sense is it that Pope Francis really just brings a simpler, more approachable style to his position than his predecessors, and that lends a dose of freshness to whatever he does.

My takeaway – Pope Francis, fresh. Pope Benedict, eh not so much.

So you see, my ire is not with the Pope himself, but the public’s reaction to him. How he is received is out of his control – up to a point. I still maintain that I’d like my Vicar of Christ a bit more kingly, as fitting of his position, but alas. My opinion carries very little weight in Rome.

So anyway, this is a start. A good start. A mighty fine start, in fact, as I work through all this, to recognize the major sources of my unease. Maybe for those who’ve reached out to me expressing their same frustrations this can be a start for them too. It’s not the pope, it’s the press and the people who want to use the Pope’s displays of humility for changing the Church into what they believe She should be.

Because I never did that with Pope Benedict.

Wait, what?

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