We’re searching the Pope Francis Phenomenon in this radio hour: the man from Argentina and his many messages from Rome, his body language, feet-washings, mob scenes in Vatican Square. He “even uses words” now and then, as the 13th Century Saint Francis urged back in the day. Pope Francis wants a church that’s “bruised, hurting and dirty” – his words — in the streets with real people, not confined or clinging to its own security. He had the audacity as no Pope before him to choose the beloved name Francis for the saint of birds and nature, the saint marked hand and foot with the wounds of Jesus. As the votes were being cast to elect him last Spring, the name “entered my heart,” he said. “Francis of Assissi; for me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects others.” We have to search his past, his plans for a faith and an institution that seemed to be limping. We want to search ourselves too: what is the human hunger Pope Francis has confirmed – not just Catholic or churchy — all across the world. What is the wave-length on which so many non-religious people “get” him? Why TIME magazine’s hands-down runaway pick for Man of the Year, 2013? And what does the blogger Andrew Sullivan mean when he says “you don’t have to be a believer to recognize a moment of grace…”? Delivering not hope, but “proof that hope is not groundless.”
For people who like homework, this was my essential on-line reading list on Pope Francis:
A Big Heart Open to God: The Pope’s wonderfully expressive, open, personal account of himself in an interview with the Jesuit magazine America.
Who Am I to Judge? A Radical Pope’s First Year : James Carroll’s New Yorker profile.
Untier of Knots: What is the Meaning of Pope Francis? Andrew Sullivan’s richly opinionated take at The Deep Dish.
Is Pope Francis the New Champion of Liberation Theology? Harvey Cox’s vision of a left-wing church, in The Nation: