Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Person of The Year

Time magazine has named Pope Francis as it's Person of the Year for 2013.

Now, I am no expert on the Holy Roman Pontif. And I expect that if His Holiness and I got chatting about matters soteriological we might soon find that we disagreed pretty fundamentally.

Yet, even to this ill-informed Reformed English cleric, there is no doubt that Francis is inspirational.

For one thing, if I am doing so well at 77 I shall be very pleased. Francis undeniably shows great energy and charisma. He seems to have a love for life and for people that is infectious and which might just catch on even in the church.

He also seems to exhibit a generosity and outgoingness that mirror the life of God Himself. He seems willing to embrace those who don't always seem that lovely. Kissing the feet of convicts is a bit grim but a bit Christlike.

And it seems that this is not just show-boating for the cameras. The Pope seems to show a genuine humility and simplicity. He calls for a poor church for the poor, a church which is a battle-field hospital, and that is surely right. This is the church as servant and comforter, before she is doctrinal police-person. In his words, The Supper “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” Francis has sought to exemplify these things and seems to do so in an exemplary way, no easy thing in today's media circus which is so alive to any whiff of hypocrasy.

Some people have seen Francis as a potential "liberalising reformer". Maybe. But I'm not sure he has actually called for any changes in doctrine or in the moral teaching of the church? However, he has sounded open, kind, compassionate and pastoral. No doubt there are dangers in this being misheard but there are opportunities too and the laying down of the law has opposite dangers.

The Pope asks us to pray for him and perhaps we might, with hope, as no doubt the Pope would agree, not so much in Francis but in his God.

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