For those who didn’t pick up their latest copy of Rolling Stone magazine, here’s its article on Pope Francis. I found it balanced and generally positive.
It’s worth pondering, I think, the way in which Francis is changing the face of the Church that is seen by the secular world. As the article points out, Francis has not set about challenging either the fundamental tenants of our belief or the established teachings relating to current hot-button topics. He’s also shown himself as able to use his authority as well as his predecessors. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that Francis is a different kind of pope than the last two.
Church bureaucracy and politics aside, I feel that Francis’ popularity is due in part to his reminding us that to be Christian we must fully embrace Our Lord’s teaching. We truly aren’t given the freedom to pick and choose which teachings we will obey because we like them and which ones we’ll ignore because they make us uncomfortable. And we can’t twist Christ’s words around so they no longer seem to mean what it’s obvious they do mean. (For example, Jesus didn’t add qualifiers when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”)
We Secular Franciscans know very well how difficult it is to follow in Francis’ footsteps while remaining in the world. But we also know the transformative joys of struggling to do so. The pope, I have no doubt, knows all of this very well. And I also know that many will misunderstand him, just as they misunderstood his namesake. But how can the pope’s example, inspired by St. Francis’ example, inspired by Our Lord’s example not help but to rebuild His Church?