Great Soul–Holy Father-Pope Francis:
Personification of Humility, Open Mindedness and Self Sacrifice: Pope Francis
(Dr. KM George, Former UN Advisor, Mel Mana, Email; Melmana@gmail.com)
During the first year of his papacy itself, Pope Francis has regained the credibility of church and faith. His approach, style, personality, disposition, courage of conviction, divine calling, informality while relating to others, open mindedness and self sacrificing shepherdess make him to stand out as a sterling star in the horizon of both divinity and humanity.
The March issue of the Kandand Diocesan Bulletin carried a special feature on Pope Francis by the diocesan Metropolitan HG Dr Thomas Athanasius. The author observes, Pope John Paul II had opined that the basic faith and order are the same for both Catholic and Orthodox churches.
“It is legitimate to affirm that the gap between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is not wide”. “At the same time, we must acknowledge that the difficulties are of a historical and psychological nature felt deeply in the Orthodox Church”. The major reasons for the conflict and friction are well understood by the Pope.
Pope Francis is implementing the action plan of Pope John Paul II. His endeavour is to erase the scars inflicted on the Orthodox Church by the erstwhile Catholic Church hierarchy. Holy Father manifests transparent humility and honesty coupled with wholesomeness by opting to serve the unequals. This is a laudable eye opener to other religious heads, who love to indulge in conspicuous consumption of luxurious goods and services. Pope Francis is a happy blend of humility and moral courage, without any air of ego or pretensions, as he serves any one, like his role model Francis of Assisi. Kudos to the Holy Father!
In fact this is the first open minded response I have seen emanating from any responsible church leader either from the Orthodox or Anglican fold on the style and substance of Pope Francis. I do commend Dr Thomas Athanasius, senior Metropolitan of the Indian Orthodox Church for being a forerunner for augmenting the process of reconciliation between Catholic and Orthodox Churches( Ref Diocesan Bulletin, Vol. 2,No 3, March 2014).
Let me add on to this, some critical observation on the vision and vicissitudes of Pope Francis.
1) Pope Francis is a revolutionary and when he observes that those who do not believe in God are to obey their conscience!
2) On homosexuality, he went on to opine that if a person is gay and seeks God and had good will, who am I to judge him.
3) He had accused priests who refuse to baptise babies of single mothers by telling such priests having “sick mentality”.
4) He demonstrates an extra ordinary ability to communicate his ideas even by gestures.
5) Religious heads pay lip service to the need for humility and simplicity. But Pope Francis drives a 1984 Renault, of the sort owned by many French farm labourers. (It may be recalled that some of the Kerala microscopic Christian denomination heads own and or are driven around in the latest versions of Volvos and Mercedes limousine!!)
6) The maiden policy decision after taking office was to shun the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square for simpler accommodation. Room 201 of Casa Santa Maria, a sort of hotel with in Vatican for visiting clerics and others has thus become his residence as well. The Apostolic Palace is like an inverted funnel says the Holy Father.
7) On economic exclusion and inequality, Pope Francis radically quoted St. John Chrysostom, an early Church father, “not to share ones wealth with the poor is to steal from them”.
8) A month after his election, he created a group of eight cardinals to “ advise him on the government of the universal church” and to draw up a project for reform of the Curia. Only one member is from Vatican. He has also named clerics and lay people from outside Rome to several other new consultative bodies were set up with new members from outside Vatican and Rome.
9) Last month Holy Father had announced a new Secretariat of the Economy to oversee the Vatican’s financial affairs. This is the most important change to the Curia since a restructuring was ordered by Pope Paul VI in 1967. Sydney archbishop George Pell will be its head to begin with. He is known for his ruthlessness when it comes to financial discipline. The most difficult task will be the cleaning up of the Institute for the Works of Religion, mostly known as the Bank of Vatican. Vatican Bank has been at the centre of several financial scandals which embarrassed recent popes.
10) Pope Francis is fully aware of the risks and inherent dangers associated with the cleaning up of the Eugene’s stable in Vatican. Yet it seems this Jesuit, non- European Pope is determined to face the inevitable—to be or not to be. The founder of La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, who had long conversation plus interview with him last year, quoted him afterwards as describing the court that forms around a pontiff as “leprosy of the papacy”.