Monday, May 12, 2014

The romanticism of Francis


I wish he wouldn't. But whether or not you're disappointed in that depends on how you view the pope to begin with. 

I, for one, view the Catholic Church as a traditional, patriarchal institution that has objectives with which I'll always be at odds. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI left me with the impression that not much would ever change within the institution, even in the face of a changing world (and a world static on the sin of child molestation). 

Pope Francis has been a breath of fresh air. I have admired his stances on a variety of issues, many of which are downright progressive. He is willing to challenge the church orthodoxy on some contentious issues, not the least of which is the church's commitment to helping the poor. He deserves all the praise he gets in that respect.

But remember too that this is relative. Outside of the church, Pope Francis wouldn't be bowling over anyone with his views — he'd be viewed as a decent guy at best. That he's seen as groundbreaking is more a testament to the rigid institution he leads than to the man himself.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still thrilled that Francis is pope. I like him and his example and I want every pope after him to be successively more progressive (I can dream). But it shouldn't shock anyone when he occasionally sides with the status quo. He can't please everyone all the time. He's not God. 

He's human.

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