Pope Francis

There’s been a lot of speculation about the new Pope ever since he was elected, about what kind of a Pope he’ll turn out to be, and what his Papacy means for the Roman Catholic Church (and for the world-wide Christian faith at-large, for that matter). Friends have asked me what I thought of him, some other friends just out-right tell me what they think of him, and still others have posted their most inner thoughts about him online (some pro and many con). There have even been written arguments between friends on Facebook, through blog comments, on Twitter, and many places on the internet. So I thought I would just keep my thoughts quiet on the subject until he’s had some time to fully develop into the Pope he will be.

Fat chance of that really happening, huh?!

Where do I begin…? Where do I begin…?

First of all, brace yourself … this is going to be a mental dump.

I guess the first thing that sprang to mind when he was elected was his humility. All nice and everything (never really thought any clergy should be pompous, but then again, there you have it!), but it makes this sceptic wonder (1) just how honest is this humility he makes sure the cameras see; and (2) this “show” of humility (e.g., eschewing the red shoes and the red mozzetta with the ermine colar at his election because there are poor people in the world) – what kind of change will this foster in a Church that has been slowly moving back toward a traditional Catholic worship it’s tried hard to shirk since the 1950s.

Mind you, when I mention “traditional Catholic worship,” I’m not speaking about the archaic thinking like the Earth is flat, the Sun revolves around the Earth, the Earth is the centre of the universe, Heaven is a place up in the clouds, Hell is a place under your feet, homosexuality is a sin, and the souls of all dead unbaptized babies go to a place called Limbo. One can progress in one’s thinking and grow spiritually being in the world and not of it, and still hold onto spiritual values that are of a traditional nature – like real liturgy, real prayer, and a real, honest, and true reverence of The Almighty (sans the piano, guitar, and banjo music).

There was always a poetic reverence to the classic English found in the Anglo-Catholic traditions versus the modern American translations: “The Lord be with you,” “And with thy spirit.” – as opposed to – “Da Lord be witchu,” “Yeah, you too!” It stems from the fact that in the 1950s and 1960s, man decided that it was just too uncomfortable to be looking up to God (was it because it hurt his neck?) and thought it a hell of a lot easier to put God in a box like a cute little pink bunny rabbit named George. Thus was born the Yoohoo masses, where all prayers addressed to God were, “You who [this],” or “You who [that].”

Under John Paul II, the Traditional Latin Rite (which believe it or not, people love; and not just because its in Latin, but because it shows that unbridled and deep reverence that was lost out of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s), but any diocese or parish that wanted to use the “extraordinary form” (as they call it) had to receive special Papal dispensation (permission from the Pope, himself). With the election of Benedict XVI, he continued the movement of that pendulum and allowed any Bishop to give permission in his own diocese to any parish that wanted to use the “extraordinary form” of the Latin Mass.

But this is getting away from my thoughts on Francis (like the title says).

Supposedly, Francis eschewed the typical, traditional papal garments because of his vow of poverty. If this is true, he apparently doesn’t understand the vow. A religious vow of poverty is not an outward, physical thing; again, it’s an inward and spiritual vow that one will not put material things before his own soul. Put simply, a vow of poverty doesn’t mean I cannot purchase a pen to write a letter; it means I cannot take ownership of it. In Francis’ case (going back to the red shoes and the red mozzetta) he supposedly didn’t donn them because of his vow of poverty – however, they wouldn’t even belong to him, but to the Church which allows him to use them. The sin against the vow would be to assume they belonged to him and only him and no one else could have them but him.

So he becomes a Plain-Jane Pope – does he believe this will bring him closer to the people and thus increase the fold, bringing more people into the Church?

Hey! Look! The Pope is wearing sneakers! That’s it! I’m gonna become religious again!!  Woo-hoo!!

Um, no. As the Church was beginning to dwindle in numbers in the 50s and 60s, the Second Vatican Council thought the same thing when they watered down religion and modernized everything; and today the faith is all but decimated.

But then again, maybe I’m wrong about him. Lord knows I’ve been wrong about things before in the past. Wouldn’t it be great if he proves to be that really humble man whom we all see in the media, and refuels the spiritual need within everyone (not just those in the Roman Catholic Church, but everywhere)? Perhaps he’ll be that Pope that breathes new life into the traditional worship the people long for…

I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.