They’re an experienced team, the three of them. The driver has barely stopped, and already the security guard has grabbed a child from the crowd on the left and is holding it up for the pope. The pontiff bends over, kisses the child — and then it’s over.
The whole thing takes mere seconds and repeats itself several times during the pope’s Wednesday lap of honor before the general audience on St. Peter’s Square starts. If there are any larger groups he can see — Boy Scouts, for example, or wheelchair-users — then Christ’s representative on Earth briefly taps the Popemobile-driver on the shoulder to get him to stop.
When observed from up close, Pope Francis comes across as a stately man. The white cassocks strain at his midsection, his pronounced chin is elongated and his eyes look searchingly into those of the people surrounding him. Compared to his predecessor, the almost otherworldly smiling Benedict XVI, the Argentinian comes across as downright earthly. As though there were no distance at all.
He hugs and he pats. He kisses small children and cardinals. He does it without warning and enthusiastically. It’s almost as if he’s using bodily contact to console himself for the burden of his position. He is the highest-ranking person of faith and a role model for the 1.3 billion Catholics around the world.
When Pope Francis, otherwise known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, entered St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. on Pentecost Sunday for the Holy Mass, he had been in office for 797 days. Seven-hundred-ninety-seven days in which he has divided the Catholic rank-and-file into admirers and critics. At time during which more and more people have begun to wonder if he can live up to what he seems to have promised: renewal, reform and a more contemporary Catholic Church.
Francis has had showers for homeless people erected near St. Peter’s Square, but has at the same time also spent millions on international consultants. He brought the Vatican Bank’s finances into order, but created confusion in the Curia. He has negotiated between Cuba and the United States, but also scared the Israelis by calling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.”
This pope is much more enigmatic than his predecessor — and that is becoming a problem. Right up to this day, many people have been trying to determine Francis’ true intentions. If you ask cardinals and bishops, or the pope’s advisors and colleagues, or veteran Vatican observers about his possible strategy these days — the Pope’s overarching plan — they seem to agree on one point: The man who sits on the Chair of St. Peter is a notorious troublemaker.
Like a billiard player who nudges the balls and calmly studies the collisions during training, Francis is getting things rolling in the Vatican. His interest in experimentation may stem from his past as a chemical engineer. He makes decisions like Jesuit leaders — after thorough consultation, but ultimately on his own.
The Francis principle has a workshop character to it, with processes more important than positions. Traditional Catholics see things exactly the other way around from Bergoglio, the Jesuit, and this is creating confusion right up to the highest circles of the Vatican. People want to know where the pope is heading. Source – where you can read the Spiegel article in full.
According to the above extract from a Spiegel article, Pope Francis “has divided the Catholic rank-and-file into admirers and critics.” True. Very true.
And what about “the man who sits on the Chair of Peter is a notorious troublemaker” … Worrying stuff – or perhaps not: it is possible, after all, to be regarded as a “troublemaker” when one is no such thing (believe me) but the real question for this thread is the closing remark at the end of the above extract: where IS Pope Francis heading? Does anybody know his “true intentions” for the Church?