Since the late 60’s isn’t a whole lot of history and tradition. But it seems significant that a pope has a first cover for The Rolling Stone. Jimmy Mac sent me the whole article. A few highlights:
After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis’ basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic.
A brutal piece of analysis:
After he became Pope Benedict in 2005, Ratzinger couldn’t seem to catch a break, and he certainly lacked the ability to apply his widely acknowledged brilliance as an academic to snuffing out fires in the real world. In 2009, a massive money-laundering scandal was uncovered at the Vatican bank… . Then came the betrayal known as VatiLeaks …
Reportedly, the tipping point for Benedict came after a trio of cardinals charged with investigating VatiLeaks submitted their report, revealing a network of gay Vatican employees and outsiders making threats of exposure. “He just didn’t have the personality or the strength to deal with everything that was happening,” one Vatican insider tells me. Shortly after Benedict shocked the world last February by announcing he’d be the first pope to resign in more than 700 years, one final indignity followed him out the door: the disclosure in La Repubblica that Italy’s largest gay bathhouse happened to be a tenant of a building owned by the Vatican.
I wouldn’t expect RS to paint the previous papacy in positive terms. But I think we realize that the shenanigans of corruption and narcissism and arrogance were present and likely remain so. I can imagine Pope Benedict coming to that realization: being surrounded by people who probably deserved to be treated the way he rendered judgment on so many theologians. And these princes primp free.
A good chunk of the American political system gets taken out at the knees:
And yet, in a stroke of what one might be tempted to call divine justice, the GOP, having played the God card so shamelessly for so many years, finds itself largely powerless to rebut the most prominent critic of income inequality on the planet. Paul Ryan, the architect of a budget proposal so regressive he drew the ire of a group of nuns, explained away Francis’ analysis by saying the pope never experienced “real capitalism” in Argentina. (Shantytowns are bad and all, but come on: Has His Holiness been apprised of the employer mandates in Obamacare?)
Two commentators weigh in. First John Thavis:
I’ve covered the Vatican for 30 years, and the reaction from the old guard to this pope is the least enthusiastic I’ve ever seen. They no longer control the game.
Thomas Reese, SJ:
The people Francis is going to have the most trouble with are the ideologues. They’re basically like the Tea Party. They’ve made up their minds. They don’t get it. And unless they go through some major conversion, they ain’t gonna get it.
Major conversion: that’s what being a Christian disciple is all about. Disciple–not just a believer.