A reader writes:
Hi Jimmy, I hope you don’t mind me writing to ask you a question.
I have been eagerly awaiting your take on Pope Francis. I trust your opinion like no other.
I am wondering why you have not posted your opinion. I do not mean to put you on the spot, but I’m worried and am wondering if you are too.
First, let me say that I don’t mind the reader writing at all. I only wish I had the opportunity to respond to all the emails I receive. I’m afraid that I’m not able to, but that should never stop anyone from writing, though.
The reader is also too kind in his interest in my opinion. There are many qualified Catholic commentators who have opinions as good–or better–than mine.
No Blogging Yet?
Regarding my not (yet) blogging in this case, I have to plead the fact that this has been a very busy few days for me.
I’ve been giving interviews about Pope Francis right and left, as well as preparing materials about him that will be published soon by different Catholic outlets.
It’s been a hectic time(!), and I haven’t been able to blog in any depth on the subject.
I’ve been blogging on his election in the small ways I’ve been able to, and I’ll undoubtedly blog more soon, but for the moment, allow me to offer a few thoughts:
1) I’m jazzed to have a new pope!
2) Like everybody else in the English-speaking world, I don’t know Pope Francis as well as I knew Pope Benedict when he assumed office.
When Pope Benedict was elected, I already knew him really well. I’d followed him and read his writings (which had been translated into English) for years. He was a known quantity, and I was super-jazzed about his election.
Pope Francis isn’t as well known (by me).
I already knew about him, but–given his age–I didn’t expect him to be elected pope (he’s only two years younger than Pope Benedict was when elected, and after Pope Benedict’s resignation for age-related reasons, I expected the cardinals to go with a younger man).
As a result, I haven’t focused on him as much–plus there is the fact that his writings as a cardinal are in Spanish and haven’t yet been translated into English.
Currently, I’m working on a book that he wrote with a rabbi (a kind of dialogue book, where they give their views on different topics), but my Spanish isn’t great, and it’s slow going.
I’m also reading his speeches as pope as soon as English translations are available.
As a result, like many people, I’m still getting to know Pope Francis.
3) I trust the wisdom of the college of cardinals.
These are a group of men guided by God–and appointed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
That’s gotta count for a lot.
If they think this man is the best person to entrust with the ministry of St. Peter, who am I (or any of us?) to question that?
My default position is thus, even if I don’t know as much about Pope Francis as I would wish, I should proceed with an open, trusting attitude toward the decision of the pastors of the Church, as rendered below the fresco of Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment.
We should trust them.
4) From what I knew about Cardinal Bergoglio before his election, I had no reason to doubt that he would make a worthy successor of St. Peter.
I had a positive impression of him then, and I still do now.
5) From what I’ve been (rapidly!) learning about him since his election, my belief that he can be a good pope has only strengthened.
I am more reassured now than I was when he was first announced, and I have every confidence that this will grow even stronger, given what I am learning. Thus . . .
6) I’m expecting good stuff ahead!
I’m sure that there will be surprises during Pope Francis’s tenure. There always are when a new pope is elected.
But God guides his Church, we have Jesus’ word on that, and we may look to the future with confidence.