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Author Topic: Placing hope in Pope Francis  (Read 1656 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: March 14, 2013, 09:45:57 AM »

Wow, I just read a Yahoo News article about Pope Francis, and if this article is anywhere near right, I'm already excited for what this guy might do.  A Pope that not only acts like Christ, but expects other Church leaders to do so as well?  Woah!  Pinch me; I must be dreaming!

Here's a link to the article:
http://news.yahoo.com/francis-first-pope-americas-193844474.html

I am copying the article in full below, for easier reading here and in case the link ever goes bad:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is the first ever from the Americas, an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernized Argentina's conservative Catholic church.

Known until Wednesday as Jorge Bergoglio, the 76-year-old is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed. He came close to becoming pope last time, reportedly gaining the second-highest vote total in several rounds of voting before he bowed out of the running in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Groups of supporters waved Argentine flags in St. Peter's Square as Francis, wearing simple white robes, made his first public appearance as pope.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening," he said before making a reference to his roots in Latin America, which accounts for about 40 percent of the world's Roman Catholics.

Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.

"Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit," Bergoglio told Argentina's priests last year.

Bergoglio's legacy as cardinal includes his efforts to repair the reputation of a church that lost many followers by failing to openly challenge Argentina's murderous 1976-83 dictatorship. He also worked to recover the church's traditional political influence in society, but his outspoken criticism of President Cristina Kirchner couldn't stop her from imposing socially liberal measures that are anathema to the church, from gay marriage and adoption to free contraceptives for all.

"In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don't baptize the children of single mothers because they weren't conceived in the sanctity of marriage," Bergoglio told his priests. "These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it's baptized!"



Bergoglio compared this concept of Catholicism, "this Church of 'come inside so we make decisions and announcements between ourselves and those who don't come in, don't belong," to the Pharisees of Christ's time — people who congratulate themselves while condemning all others.
This sort of pastoral work, aimed at capturing more souls and building the flock, was an essential skill for any religious leader in the modern era, said Bergoglio's authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin.

But Bergoglio himself felt most comfortable taking a very low profile, and his personal style was the antithesis of Vatican splendor. "It's a very curious thing: When bishops meet, he always wants to sit in the back rows. This sense of humility is very well seen in Rome," Rubin said before the 2013 conclave to choose Benedict's successor.

Bergoglio's influence seemed to stop at the presidential palace door after Nestor Kirchner and then his wife, Cristina Fernandez, took over the Argentina's government. His outspoken criticism couldn't prevent Argentina from becoming the Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, or stop Fernandez from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination.

His church had no say when the Argentine Supreme Court expanded access to legal abortions in rape cases, and when Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminate against children, Fernandez compared his tone to "medieval times and the Inquisition."

This kind of demonization is unfair, says Rubin, who obtained an extremely rare interview of Bergoglio for his biography, the "The Jesuit."

"Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He's no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes," Rubin said.

Bergoglio has stood out for his austerity. Even after he became Argentina's top church official in 2001, he never lived in the ornate church mansion where Pope John Paul II stayed when visiting the country, preferring a simple bed in a downtown building, heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city, and cooked his own meals.

Bergoglio almost never granted media interviews, limiting himself to speeches from the pulpit, and was reluctant to contradict his critics, even when he knew their allegations against him were false, said Rubin.
That attitude was burnished as human rights activists tried to force him to answer uncomfortable questions about what church officials knew and did about the dictatorship's abuses after the 1976 coup.

Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. It's one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend mass.

Under Bergoglio's leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.

"Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas; he doesn't forget that side," Rubin said.

The bishops also said "we exhort those who have information about the location of stolen babies, or who know where bodies were secretly buried, that they realize they are morally obligated to inform the pertinent authorities."
That statement came far too late for some activists, who accused Bergoglio of being more concerned about the church's image than about aiding the many human rights investigations of the Kirchners' era.
Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman said.
At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.
Both men were freed after Bergoglio took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them — including persuading dictator Jorge Videla's family priest to call in sick so that he could say Mass in the junta leader's home, where he privately appealed for mercy. His intervention likely saved their lives, but Bergoglio never shared the details until Rubin interviewed him for the 2010 biography.

Bergoglio — who ran Argentina's Jesuit order during the dictatorship — told Rubin that he regularly hid people on church property during the dictatorship, and once gave his identity papers to a man with similar features, enabling him to escape across the border. But all this was done in secret, at a time when church leaders publicly endorsed the junta and called on Catholics to restore their "love for country" despite the terror in the streets.
Rubin said failing to challenge the dictators was simply pragmatic at a time when so many people were getting killed, and attributed Bergoglio's later reluctance to share his side of the story as a reflection of his humility.

But Bregman said Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. "The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support," she said.

Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months' pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The De la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to the case. Months passed before the monsignor came back with a written note from a colonel: It revealed that the woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family "too important" for the adoption to be reversed.

Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn't know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.

"Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn't know anything about it until 1985," said the baby's aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother Alicia co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 in hopes of identifying these babies. "He doesn't face this reality and it doesn't bother him. The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can't keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is."

Initially trained as a chemist, Bergoglio taught literature, psychology, philosophy and theology before taking over as Buenos Aires archbishop in 1998. He became cardinal in 2001, when the economy was collapsing, and won respect for blaming unrestrained capitalism for impoverishing millions of Argentines.

Later, there was little love lost between Bergoglio and Fernandez. Their relations became so frigid that the president stopped attending his annual "Te Deum" address, when church leaders traditionally tell political leaders what's wrong with society.

During the dictatorship era, other church leaders only feebly mentioned a need to respect human rights. When Bergoglio spoke to the powerful, he was much more forceful. In his 2012 address, he said Argentina was being harmed by demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power. The message resonated in a country whose president was ruling by decree, where political scandals rarely were punished and where top ministers openly lobbied for Fernandez to rule indefinitely.
___
Warren reported from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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ncjohn
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 02:51:44 PM »

I'm in "wait and see" mode on this one. I've heard some good things and some quesrtionable things. I've heard that he intends to reform the Curia and that heard another side that the only way he got elected was through the support of the Curia and that he wouldn't even know how to reform it.

My hopes are high; my expectations not as much.
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 12:06:10 PM »

I'll just enjoy each moment as it goes by.  The fact that he hangs around in slums, calls down self-righteous judgmental priests, and calls Church leaders "hypocrites" is a good sign.  So I'll wait and see too, but meanwhile I think this pope is doing a burn to some haughty attitudes that I like to see get burned.

There is a lot of press about how he didn't wear the fancy robe to greet the people.  Here are a few excerpts from a CAF poster's thread on the matter:



"His choice of dress also sent a message. Francis steered clear of the fur-trimmed red cape known as a mozzetta that popes often wear for ceremonial occasions, and put on a stole only for his blessing. That is in keeping with a personal style that has been considered the antithesis of Vatican splendor" (Washington Post)

"One of the first things a new pope hears is, “Holy Father, it’s always done this way.” In his first 24 hours in office, Pope Francis has already given indications that he may not be intimidated by those words, as he creates his own style of being pope.That was clear from the moment he put on his papal robes, donning the simple white cassock but declining to wear the ermine-trimmed red cape known as the mozzetta, which was left hanging on the wardrobe in the Room of Tears." (JohnThavis.com)

"I think that already tonight we are going to see a different kind of papacy. He greeted people warmly - not in a liturgical manner - and asked the people to bless him before he gave a blessing. He wasn't dressed in the red papal mozzetta" (The Guardian)

"When the new pope emerged on the balcony, he was wearing the simple white cassock of his new office. There was no ermine-lined red mozzetta, no fancy stole. (He put on a stole to impart the blessing and then, immediately, took it off again.) I am told that Bergoglio’s election has caused heartburn amongst those who think restoring the traditional Latin Mass is the way to evangelize the 21st century. Good." (National Catholic Reporter)

"Shortly afterward Pope Francis, clothed in papal white - without the winter red mozetta which often accompanies the papal vestments- emerged to greet the faithful." (Catholic.org)

"his simplicity was also apparent when he later appeared before the people in his papal attire. Although he could have worn the gold pectoral cross usually worn by pontiffs, he chose to keep the cross from his time as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. As far as his papal vestments go, he wore a simple white cassock without the red, ermine-trimmed cape known as the mozzetta." (Catholic News Agency)
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ncjohn
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 06:09:08 PM »

I'm very impressed with his initial actions and his apparent willingness to call a spade a spade. Whether he can translate that into actual reform we'll have to watch and see.

I am thrilled though about his apparent lack of interest or priority in restoring the Latin mass.
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013, 08:59:24 AM »

Got this email today:


Reflections on a New Face
by Richard Rohr

As a Franciscan, I was, of course, elated that one of the first decisions of the
new pope was to take a name that has not been taken by a pope before: "Francisco"--which
in itself says an awful lot. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is surely the most wonderful
example of a joyful "para-church" approach to church reform. He was never a company
man. "Don't fight it directly," Francis modeled for us, "just do it very differently
yourself."

For Cardinal Bergoglio to identify himself so clearly with a reformer of Christian
lifestyle, instead of a doctrinal apologist, is extremely telling and very hopeful....

Read Fr. Richard's full article on Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fr-richard-rohr/reflections-on-a-new-face_b_2885215.html
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Justicia et Pax
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 06:48:00 AM »

I too am very excited. I have high hopes for a Jesuit Pope. I don't know realistically how much can be achieved but I certainly like his attitude towards some (not all) things Smiley
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