NCR’s John Allen profiled him the other week. This spot didn’t give me cause for alarm:
These were the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into “base communities” and political activism.
This is right. Base communities and political activism is for lay people. Clergy have no business in it, and except for basic duties as citizens should leave it to the laity, one-hundred percent.
Some of my liberal sisters and brothers might disagree with me on this, but I think this is essentially a progressive position for modern Catholics. Exceptions might be made, but these would be vanishingly rare. I certainly think the clergy can throw their support behind lay activists. And they should, regardless of ideology. Activism needs to be formed by a deep interior reflection and contemplation. Not by assuming we’re getting contemplatives and reflectors in our midst.