Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New America Pope

I don't know a thing about the new Pope, but his choice of a name is interesting.

Pope Benedict chose that name to point to the need to purify and preserve the church. St. Benedict, living in the age when Rome was collapsing, founded monasteries which copied books to preserve them, and these soon spread into the new lands of the barbarians bringing knowledge (not just of religion but schools and literacy and new methods of farming and the ability to organize order out of chaos).

Francis, however, was a child of the age when Italy was undergoing an upsurge of comercialism and growth of the middle class. The monasteries were still needed, but their isolation from society, needed in the days of anarchy, now meant they no longer were relavant to the world.

So Francis went out into the world and preached in the streets, caring for the lepers, talking to the businessmen using their own language (his father was a businessman) and making religion meaningful for the poor. The first "Nativity scene" was by Francis, for example, to show the poor the reality of Christ coming into the normal world of their families, not into the wealthy churches and monasteries of the day.

There is a need for Francis, both among the Catholics who cling to the idea we need to worship Christ, not the new socialist state, and to remind those who back the progressive agenda that loving god does not mean you vote Democratic so the government will do everything for you, but that it means actually cleaning up the wounds of the lepers yourself.

And, of course, Francis' love of nature has a strong "ecological" stance.

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