Liberation Papology?

The Holy Father had decided to move near the disadvantaged...

The new Papal Apartments were in tune with Franciscan simplicity…

Two pieces of news, none of them particularly good, reach me just before dinner. They both concern our new, strong-willed but, how shall I put it, perhaps just a tad self-centred Pope. 

The first one I have from Father Z: Holy Thursday Mass is to be removed from his traditional location of San Giovanni in Laterano, and to be celebrated in a youth detention centre instead. A rupture with a consolidated tradition smacking, once again, of Seventies on steroids. What I personally find questionable here is not the decision to celebrate Mass in a youth detention centre, but to deliberately break with tradition and with the solemnity rightly associated with the Holy Thursday Mass. 

Father Z comments, very aptly in my eyes, with the following words:

Look.  I understand what Francis is doing here.  Fine.  But in making such a dramatic change, I fear that he runs the risk of making these change all about him, rather than some other message he wants to convey.  The same goes for all the other changes he is making.  The papacy isn’t just his own thing to do with what it pleaseth him to do.  The changes can become distractions, especially the way the media will handle them.

Ahem, I rest my case. I would only add that I suspect the “way the media will handle them” is exactly what the Holy Father is hoping for. I miss the same commitment when it is uncomfortable. 

The second one is the decision (read today somewhere on the Internet, but I don’t remember in which language) that Pope Francis still has not decided whether (not “when”) to move in the Papal Apartments. Apparently he has “taken possession”, but he just does not live there, still preferring the hotel. 

Whilst the first “innovation” is a strike at tradition, this one seems to me another blow at Papal authority.

Can’t wait for a Pope living in the youth hostel. The security must be fun.

It seems to me that the mildest thing one can say is that this Pope still has problems in realising he now is the Pope, and this changes his life forever (or as long as he is Pope).

The less mild thing one can say is that “me, myself and I” starts to be written in rather large characters on this Papacy, with a series of choices showing a rather obvious lack of regard for the wisdom of the ages, from the way a Pope should dress to the way in which he should live. Again, Seventies on steroids. All this, mind, not made in a slow and subtle way, but with a rather “look at me! I am different!” written all over it.

Someone near him should have the guts to tell him: “You are the Pope, Your Holiness. Get over it”. 


Posted on March 21, 2013, in Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Two corrections, one minor.
    1. Pope Francis is currently staying in a different hotel. Before the conclave, he stayed a hotel for clergy in Rome: as the cardinals could not begin to stay in the hotel they used during the conclave— Domus Sanctae Marthae—which is within the Vatican walls.

    The theatre, as you called it, was him actually paying the bill and picking up the luggage that he left behind when moving to DSM for the conclave.

    2. In the paragraph referring to “whether” not “when”, you typed Pope Benedict instead of Francis. It threw me off thinking, at first, Pope Benedict XVI was considering not returning to the Vatican.

  2. I assume you mean Pope Francis when you comment on him staying in a hotel. Let me clarify for you. Prior to the conclave, the Holy Father stayed at Domus Paulus VI in Via della Scrofa, close to the Pantheon. This is where he returned to pay his bill. After election he has remained in Domus Sanctae Marthae where the cardinals resided during the conclave. Hbwhen a Pope dies, or in the case of Benedict XVI standing down, the Papal appartments are sealed until a new pope iselected. They are then refurbished before the new Pope moves in.


  3. I think you mean the reluctance of Francis, not Benedict, to move into the papal apartment? I trust the Pope’s prison Mass will be a simple one in private, shielded from the world’s media.

    • Thanks Gentry, error noted and corrected.

      I cannot imagine the mass of Maundy Thursday to be a private one, in countries like Italy the TV audience is huge. What I think is meant is the Pope washing the feet of the young offenders whilst the world watches…


  4. Reblogged this on sycomorus und kommentierte:
    Der Papst ist der Papst ist der Papst.

  5. Has there been any explanation as to why Pope Francis doesn’t genuflect? Was he born without knee caps?

  6. I keep getting the feeling that our new pope may be just a bit too proud of how humble he is.

  7. Well, I hope that the Pope’s visit to Benedict on Saturday will be strictly behind closed doors and not a photo-op..

  8. The gestures may cease when the press get bored and start to ignore them. You can only get so much mileage from a Pope being nice to the ‘marginalised’. I am reminded of Pope John’s visit to Regina Caeli Prison one Christmas, which received enormous coverage,(I suppose that H.H. remembers it too.)

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