Comments: opinion

Re The Pope and the new broom motif, the new Pope, whomever it was to be and we now know its Francis, was elevated from a small and fairly homogeneous group. Individuality can matter, although I think we often put too much emphasis on that, and less on context--historical, social, and ecclesiastical. Vatican II, for example, was called by John 23rd, but the times in which it took place, and it was overseen by two Popes, were perhaps the more significant factor.

The bigger issue is grounded in the papacy as institution--one within a larger and more complex institution still. Until the institution of the papacy under goes a major change, the horizon of expectation will remain limited.Not so much a broom as a feather duster perhaps?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 16 March 2013 at 7:38pm GMT

"Not so much a broom as a feather duster perhaps?" Certainly the pope who wears the black shoes won't be bringing back the ostrich feather fans - nor the triple tiara or the sedia gestatoria.

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 5:42am GMT

Margaret Hebblethwaite's article - based on actual experience of conversation with the future Pope Francis - gives a good account of the circumstances surrounding the intrigue of Church v. State goings-on in Argentina. I guess if I was a cleric in that regime I would want to protect my colleagues from the rigours of prospective torture by the state.

However, Jorge Bergoglio, despite his exalted status is fully human - created in the divine Image and Likeness, yes, but fully human. He has made mistakes. He may even make more.

In his new status as Pontifex Maximus he will, of course, be accredited with 'papal infallibility' - for which not only he, but the whole Roman Catholic Church, will be rendered responsible at the judgement seat of God. What a burden to carry?

One can only pray that, in his future dogmatic statements, Pope Francis will only make those consistent with the piety of his forebear, Saint Francis of Assisi - whose bias was to the poor and disenfranchised. This may even allow him to accept Women and the LGBT community as equals, fellow sinners and fully human - needing love and forgiveness - like all of us. Kyrie eleison!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 9:00am GMT

The new Pope does indeed seems like a truly holy person, and the emphasis on the poor is important and welcome. These are matters of personal traits. However, what will be telling, and it may take some time to tell, is what he will be able to do with regards to issues like the child abuse scourge, or the Vatican Bank scandal. In the matter of criminal child abuse, will the priorities shift clearly in terms of the harm done to child victims? Issues like these move us beyond the cult of personality, adoring this pope and disparaging that one, to the institutional paradigm.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 12:32pm GMT

Theo Hobson's question is one that has puzzled me for many years: why be a liberal Catholic when you can simply be an Anglican? His answer may be right, that Catholicism strives to subject all of culture to itself, where Anglicanism is content to be merely part of culture.

But I have heard another answer from Catholics whom I have questioned about this: for Catholics, the Church is their family, and however much you may be at war with your family, you simply can't resign from it! You just go to Christmas dinner and endure it. You just go to Mass and endure it. But you can't change families.

However that may be, people *do* change religions. I often think that the Anglican Church should be a little more out there in letting disgruntled Catholics know about the Anglican option.

Posted by John Thorp at Sunday, 17 March 2013 at 8:48pm GMT
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