Before I start, let me just apologise for my use in the title of this post of a word that fell out of popular parlance at around the turn of this century. I’m a Dad, so I have a license to be cringeworthy at times.
Anyhoo- I just thought that I’d share these pictures, as I personally find them both rather telling and also highly encouraging. The new Pope, Pope Francis, was greeting a group of around 500 young people from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio at the end of August when he posed for a photo that has gone viral on the ‘net, and which I’m sure you have come across.
It’s a nice photo- even if he does look a tad awkward and unsure there on the left- but what makes it quite remarkable is the fact that the bloke on the left is the Pope. He whom Catholics regard as God’s ultimate representative on Earth. I can’t imagine Pope Benedict XVI posing like this for a ‘selfie’, but as many have pointed out, Francis is a lot more down-to-earth than his predecessor, having come from a normal diocese rather than directly from within the confines of the Vatican. I mean, Benedict was already installed in the Vatican before he became Pope, making him more accustomed to the finery and the protocol than his successor. I feel that Francis is in fact a more ‘holy’ Pope in as much as he is willing to carry his own bags, pay his bills, live in an apartment that is just big enough for his needs, and wash the feet of female prisoners as well as males. He lives a more Christian life through his shunning of the extravagance that became the trademark of Pope Benedict- the fine red stole and cassock, the red slippers made by nuns, the over-sized living quarters. Also, this image shows a Pope that not only embraces the modern world (as indeed Benedict did when he joined Twitter), but also one who sees the importance of engaging with the next generation of the church in order to be relevant to it, and to be seen as someone who is not out of reach, inaccessible and aloof. if he is God’s ultimate etc., then here we have a God who is within reach; who is able to be engaged with and responsive to the changing face of the world. A modern God, and a modern Pope. Something to be embraced, I think. It’s just a shame that he will not alter the view of the Catholic church on issues such as contraception and women priests and bishops. But I suppose there is time, and indeed it is only a matter of time before a future Pope hopefully not too far down the line will correct these and other matters.