Ten things to understand about Pope Francis

Burke

Burke

The following comes from an Oct. 22 posting on Catholic News Service

If people are still unsure about what to make of Pope Francis, the Vatican’s media adviser offered his take on decoding the pontiff.

“Pope Francis is not a politically-correct pope,” rather, he is “a loyal son of the church” who presents the hard truths with a heavy dose of mercy, said Greg Burke, senior communications adviser to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The former U.S. journalist, who’s been based in Rome the past 25 years, gave a behind-the-scenes talk last week to hundreds of benefactors celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.

….Here’s Burke’s Top Ten List to describe and better understand the Argentine pontiff:

1. Mercy — The story of the Prodigal Son is a recurring theme and the pope repeatedly says that God never tires of forgiving and welcoming his lost children back home.  “The church is waiting here for you with open arms,” is the message, Burke said.

2. Moxie/courage — “We’re all going to get challenged by Pope Francis. Get ready!” People who live comfortably or live in developed nations will be especially challenged, Burke said, adding, “This is good. This is the Gospel.”

3. Margins, missions — Francis is continuing with his predecessors’ criticism of a world divided by haves and have-nots. The pope “is not a fan of cheap grace and feel-good religion. He wants to see Christians who are not afraid to get their hands dirty,” Burke said.

4. Prayer — Non-believers often don’t notice how important prayer is for religious life. For example, Blessed Mother Teresa was often looked upon by the secular press as “a social worker wearing a habit.” But, Burke said, the pope has constantly been stressing the importance of prayer and urging people to pray.

5. Encounter — The pope is asking people to embrace a “culture of encounter” where they experience God and meet with others, including non-believers. This attitude of encounter and communion also starts at home, with your family, Burke said.

6. Joy — The pope “gets a thumbs’ up on that,” he said, as he’s able to show his joy so plainly. He said that according to Pope Francis, the biggest dangers and temptations in life are “discouragement, discord, the doldrums and the devil.”

7. Service — By paying his hotel bill in person (even though he had just been elected pope), phoning people who write to him and other do-it-yourself tasks, the pope is leading by example with the message that “it’s not about power or privilege; if we’re here, we’re here to serve.”

8. Simplicity/Humility — Living in a Vatican guest house instead of the apostolic palace, carrying his own briefcase on a trip… that’s just how the pope is and people will have to “get used to it because we’ll see more of it,” Burke said.

9. Compassion — Burke, who’s a numerary member of Opus Dei and went to Jesuit-run St. Louis University high school in St. Louis, said he used to joke with people “that everyone should have a Jesuit education. Now with Pope Francis, everyone is getting the benefits of a Jesuit education.”

“Compassion and suffering with others is something Pope Francis has a knack for” and it’s especially evident when he embraces people and is totally present one-on-one with an individual, even in large crowds.

10. Energy — Burke said for a 76-year-old, the pope “has a lot of energy and we’re going to be in for an interesting ride!”

To read the entire story, click here.

 

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  1. #11 I wish he would use his Jesuit Education to discipline his fellow Jesuits who continually use the Jesuit universities to be a place where attacking the moral teachings of Jesus is allowed, a great scandal in a supposedly Catholic College.

  2. Pope Francis has made ambiguous statements to the public and the press. He is a well-educated Jesuit, but I think he should improve his communication skills, otherwise he is providing fodder to those who would love to see more division in the church. With the dearth of catechesis, he is giving confusing messages to the faithful, especially regarding abortion and homosexuality.

  3. good cause says:

    Pope Francis is an answer to a prayer. Breath of fresh air. God bless him!

  4. Ann Malley says:

    #1 – Why are we trying to rewrite the story of the Prodigal son in this era? The father of the Prodigal assured his son of his love and let him go his way. He didn’t tag after him, begging him to come home, changing house rules, or calling his older brother obsessed with rules to get the Prodigal’s attention.

    The Father only ran after the son when the son was on his way home!

    • Maybe they are thinking of the parable of the lost sheep,

      • Ann Malley says:

        Yes, k, that would be a better reference. But even before Francis the Church seems to have adopted the notion that the Prodigal is to be chased after and ‘convinced’ and/or loved enough and/or accepted as is enough to come home.

        But what is home if anything goes? Really?

        As for the Good Shepherd parable, we also need to be practical and respectful as concerns free will. You cannot MAKE a sheep come back to the fold. And you have to beware of said sheep who perhaps says they want to come back to the fold if what you’re really dealing with is a wolf with a sheep’s coat looking to convince the flock that the wolf’s way is the right way.

        Parables need to be taken in context, much like the teachings of Church leaders.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Ann Malley good comments, excellent point of view. I like that one!

  5. Anton L Seidl says:

    Greg Burke put a very positive spin on his narrative about Pope Francis. Chatty, enthusiastic, but shallow and unconvincing.

  6. mike magee says:

    Certainly Francis is a necessary breath of fresh air. Finally a guy like the Bishop of Bling gets the boot (at least temporarily). Francis may be setting an example of what is really Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God).

  7. Larry from R.I. says:

    Certainly Francis is a necessary breath of fresh air.

    Is this the same kind of necessary breath of fresh air that came through the window at VCII???????????????

  8. pete salveinini says:

    Cardinal Burke left out COLLABORATION. His way of discernment is simultaneously a way of collaborating with others. He REALLY knows the Eastern Catholic way. The “gang of 8 Cardinals” from each continent of the world is almost a carbon copy of the way the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople operates, who also has eight advisors.

  9. I’m glad Burke prefaced his statement that everyone should receive a Jesuit education with “he used to joke that . . . .” San Diego politician Carl DeMaio is also proud of his Jesuit education and adds that he was raised by Jesuits from age 14. DeMaio claims to be both gay and Catholic.

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