Thirteen months on, it remains a vast amusement to see some conservative Catholics spinning Pope Francis to fit their worldview. Apparently, it’s not enough to read and consider the man’s words. William Oddie at Catholic Herald offers a take on “Should Pope Francis have abandoned the trappings of his office? The media image now is of a pontiff rejecting the traditions of the Church.”
To be frank, I pay little attention to the secular media on specialty items like religion, science, and even less important subjects like entertainment, sports, and other occasional hobbies I might have. I don’t expect the media to get faith or reason right. So I don’t read them.
That said, my sense is that the media is paying attention to the pope’s tone, which by any standard is far different from his predecessor. I would expect it. One was a diocesan priest, another was in a religious order. Both were teachers, but in different settings. They lived on different continents. They had vastly different experiences of WWII, Vatican II, the counterculture, and the Cold War era. Both had post-academic careers in bureaucracy: one in Rome and the other in a religious order.
Mr Oddie asks:
Firstly, does anyone seriously think, because (Pope Benedict) wore the scarlet mozzetta and red shoes, and went to his duties driven in a white Merc (by a driver who wept at his final departure) that Pope Benedict was NOT the profoundly humble and holy man he clearly was, for all that he didn’t consciously project humility?
I’ve said it before. Joseph Ratzinger was the most well-known person ever to be elected pope. Before his election he ran CDF, and in that role, he rarely if ever projected humility or holiness.
He may well have been a humble and holy person. A lot of people didn’t see it. His humility and sanctity are a matter between him and God.
His restoration of many decorative elements to the papacy were colored by the perception of the man as CDF head. Good things for a slender minority of Catholics. Probably not praiseworthy for most Catholics who had reason to dislike the man before 2005.
The fairness, accuracy, or utility of such feelings, assessments, or opinions may or may not be a good thing. In the view of many faithful and holy Catholics, the man had baggage heading to the Chair of Peter. Jorge Bergoglio, almost nothing.
Should Pope Francis have abandoned some 2005 innovations? In my opinion, yes. Does the media image of the man mean what the conservatives are fretting about? Not at all.