Coffee House

What can we expect from Pope Francis?

13 March 2013

9:51 PM

13 March 2013

9:51 PM

Some striking facts about Pope Francis. Fact one: the Cardinals have elected a 76-year-old with only one lung. This undermines the idea that Pope Benedict stepped aside so that a younger, dynamic CEO-style figure would take charge, someone who could handle the exhausting job of running the Church. Instead the Cardinals went for a man of great individual piety who has lived a long and holy life.

Fact two: we have the first Jesuit Pope. Traditionally, the Jesuits have been seen as a potential rival power base to the papacy. Now they are the papacy. The Jesuits have been, in recent decades, associated with the left, even the wacky wing of the Catholic Church. Bergoglio is not — let’s be clear — the sort of anti-tradition radical that Catholic trendies are praying for. He recently spoke out against gay adoption and is by all accounts an orthodox Catholic on the other subjects that preoccupy liberals in the developed world. In contrast to many Latin American clerics, he is not a disciple of liberation theology, the quasi-Communist movement that was so powerful in the 60s and 70s.  But he does seem to be a figure for whom Catholic teaching on ‘social justice’ is paramount – and his choice of name is surely in part a tribute to St Francis of Assisi, whose emphasis was on the humble life, as well as to St Francis Xavier, the famous Jesuit saint.

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Traditionalists are already sweating about the new Pope’s liturgical orthodoxy. Some economically liberal, free-market orientated Catholics, meanwhile, might now be as concerned as the lefties were at Ratzinger’s elevation in 2005.  What will the new Supreme Pontiff say about the financial crisis? Many Catholic free-marketeers have overlooked Benedict’s sterner criticisms of unbridled capitalism in the last few years. They might find that harder to do under Pope Francis. He is not a politician, of course, but then Catholicism in Latin America is the voice of the poor. Pope Francis will represent them.

Fact three: Francis I has already shown himself to be an explicitly Marian Pope. That is, his Catholicism is deeply informed by a devotion to the Virgin Mary. He gave not one but two blessings in the name of Mary last night, and his first visit this morning was to a Marian shrine. This is very Latin American, and something of a contrast to Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger was, of course, devoted to Mother of God, but that wasn’t as profoundly embedded into his spirituality as it was with John Paul II. He was not an instinctive Marian. The Argentinian Pope Francis is. This may have ecumenical consequences — Catholicism and Protestantism have historically been divided over the importance of Mary — particularly in the spiritual battleground of Latin America, where new charismatic and Pentecostal groups have grown at Catholicism’s expense. But this could be source of unity rather than division: new charismatic movements are not anti-Marian, necessarily, in the way that European Prots are. Might Pope Francis find a way of bringing new world evangelicalism and Latin (Marian) Roman Catholicism together?

 

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Show comments
  • Fergus Pickering

    Who is Freddie Gray? What is his agenda? He is the only Speccie journalist writing about the Pope. Why is that?

  • Fergus Pickering

    We can expect sweet bugger all. The man is a whited sepulchre who betrayed his own priests to the junta and would do it again. He cares not a jot for the 30,000 disappeared ones and is intent only on protecting the Catholic hierarchy so that they can go on as they always have done. My Scottish Calvinist friends would be succnct as ever as to what we should do with the Pope, tis Pope, any bloody Pope..

  • emiller7

    This country has a history of various relationships with the Pope and I can see no future improvement!

  • http://twitter.com/Terence_I Terence Hale

    Hi,
    What can we expect from Pope Francis? The gentleman could be a political Pope.

  • http://twitter.com/TheAgedP The Aged P

    Thank goodness they chose somebody – now perhaps we won’t have to read all the gushing garbage that seems to be the norm at the Speccie and DT.

    • HFC

      16/1 with Paddy Power that 2013 will be a year of three popes. Why do they elect old men with fragile health?

      • Eddie

        Maybe because they like a good funeral – or want to put the ‘fun’ back into it after all the, y’know, little problems they’ve been having…

  • Framer

    What happened to his other lung?

  • HookesLaw

    it is very good of Mr Gray to peddle his Catholicism onto us but for me I’m not bothered. The pictures of nuns wetting themselves at the sight of their new pope leaves me cold.
    The catholic church has endless crimes laid at its door – I care little for it. if Jesus whose teachings I take seriously were to return now he would be disgusted at the way it has behaved over the years.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    A point greatly in his favour is the the traddies and Lefebvrists are spitting blood

    • Wessex Man

      My comment that was deleted was tame comapred to the above two, funny old World!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Engage with Ralph.

    The IRA bombing of Baltic Exchange EC3 and Canary Wharf E15 in 1992 was assisted and enabled through the American Intelligence services. Who really runs the British security services? Ready to engage?
    ps was Manchester Arndale the final straw?

    • Tiffin

      What on earth has that got to do with the subject of the new pope?

  • boisgolf

    Let’s face it. The Catholic Church is an old dieing cult. Franic I at 76 may be. ‘Umble but he will never be qble to modernise what is unmodernisable. The world has moved on from when life was directed by myth and legend and ignorance. People are now beter educated, and no more about why thing happens. There is certainly more to do in wide ing the education and knowledge of the world. But make no mistake, it will happen and although man needs “a reason for being” and fetes and celebrations they will become more secular as belief in the christian myths declines.

    • Vrai Telemachus

      The Catholic Church seems to be gaining strength. It is a threat to the revolution. I don’t know where you get the idea it is dying out. We are trying our best but the visit of Benedict showed it as still filled with much life.

      • Tiffin

        That is completely wrong. Boisgolf is his own man. He is certainly not some old greek.

    • Mycroft

      ‘People are now beter educated, and no more about why thing happens. ‘ Hm, I have my doubts, and this sentence hardly provides good evidence for it.

      • boisgolf

        Sadly the typing skils of some peop,e does not match their education. But one assu es we cn overlook that.
        Sadly people like Mycroft feel the need to make snide remarks insteDof something constructive. His comment says more about him than anything else.

        • Mycroft

          Does one really need to reply to a post that refers to a church which has over a billion members and over 400,000 priests as being a ‘dying cult’?

          • boisgolf

            Why did you reply then?

            • Mycroft

              I merely remarked on your self-refuting observation. It was a joke, by the way; don’t take yourself so seriously, at least unless you have some serious point to contribute to the discussion.

              • boisgolf

                There you again. Being rude and snide. Not very Christian is it?
                This is my last post on the subject. Goodbye.

                • Mycroft

                  My, you are a sensitive flower. I am sorry if I offended you.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  You should not be, Mycroft. Offending certain people is a pleasurable duty.

    • Mr.D.Advocate

      In Europe it’s waned. But not in Africa or Latin America. It grows apace.

  • The Sage

    What can we expect from Pope Francis I? Bugger all, and in every sense.

  • http://profiles.google.com/digbydolben Bruce Lewis

    The anti-Catholicism of most of you Brits is truly vicious and atavistic, in my opinion. You’ve had four centuries to get over it, and still it persists. Want to know, ever, what your Anglican Communion did to poor Indians here, where I live? It actually rivals what the Inquisition did in Goa, but you’d hear none of it–nothing about how your “godly” Protestant clergy preached MASSACRE of the Mutineers in 1857.

    • jemspilsbury

      So we Brits are now to blame for what your people did to the Indians!

    • Eddie

      The Indian Mutiny was actually a Jihad with Islamists slaughtering all non-Muslims (brown and white) and sparing all Muslims (including white British ones).
      They were very annoyed because the British, with their superior culture, law, organisation and technology, took over from Muslim dictators called Moghuls who ruled brutally over a majority Hindu population.
      The British indeed created the country called India and gave to it far more than they took. Never more than 50,000 British soldiers in India. The Indians clearly wanted British rule – all expect the Muslims who pined for the days when they ruled the roost.
      Learn some history, gan-chud.

  • http://twitter.com/Waltroon Walter Ellis

    How come the new guy didn’t have to retire at 75 like other Catholic bishops? And how come, as a Jesuit, he became a bishop in the first place – something that hardly ever happens? It’s almost as if he was actually an insider the whole time, being groomed by Benedict for the vacancy he knew would arise.

    But tsk, tsk. All holy water under the Ponte Sant’Angelo.

  • David Lindsay

    My comment that Coffee House will not allow up in defence of the last Pope has been allowed up on Comment is Free. I hope that you are very proud of that.

  • http://twitter.com/WillHoneycomb Will Honeycomb

    I think your reporting and commenting on the resignation of Benedict and election of Francis have been splendid, Mr Gray.

  • Daniel Maris

    He made a good start. Humility is probably a good watchword for the Church at the present time.

    • FMarion

      Humility is a good watchword for Chrisitians at any time.

    • Wilhelm

      Daniel, how are you coping ? last week you were, dare I say it, salivating, at the prospect of a black Pope. Today, your hopes, dreams and aspirations have come crashing down upon you, as the Vatican threw the very idea of an African Pope, out the window.

      But don’t worry, they’re going to cast a black actor in Downton Abbey, the Bongo madness doesn’t end, does it ? I’ll have to add that show to the long list of television programmes, not to watch.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2228000/Downton-Abbey-Julian-Fellowes-plans-introduce-black-Indian-characters.html

  • David Lindsay

    What is going on with the moderation?

  • Austin Barry

    Am I the only one to find something rather sinister about the Vatican’s all-male stage company, gowned and pious, smirking with unctuous self-regard at the inevitable accession of one of its own? Or of the Moonie transendence of the papal groupies in St Peter’s Square?

    How can we abide this absurd pantomime when we know what happens behind the cassocks twitching celibacy and the enduring pain that it has caused and continues to cause?

    • FrankieThompson

      Gie yirsel peace.

    • http://twitter.com/WillHoneycomb Will Honeycomb

      Calm down dear. A little less self-regarding polishing of your bon mots

    • FMarion

      Austin: Some do bigotry with style. You don’t.

    • Mr.D.Advocate

      Well if you really really cannot abide any more religion you can protest vociferously in St. Peter’s square. Or at the Al-Aqsa mosque. or the wailing wall. Pick one. They’ll all be perfect for your protest.

  • David Lindsay

    I am baffled at the suggestion in some places that Catholics in Britain might have anything against an Argentine Pope, or vice versa. The Pope was an Italian during the Second World War, and for 33 more years thereafter.

    • CraigStrachan

      Right, and Ratzinger was in the Hitler Youth. We shouldn’t really be surprised when alien elements, anatagonistic towards Britain and her role in the world, rise to the top of a church that is historically antagonistic towards Britain and her role in the world.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Hitler Youth was a compulsory youth movement, Young Communists were not in the UK but still attracted future Labour Cabinet MInisters

        • HookesLaw

          You make a good if obvious point.

      • classieview

        Pope Francis is no more likely to be a prisoner of his national past than his predecessor was. Orangemen of my acquaintance were philosophical about Pope Benedict’s highly successful 2010 visit to Britain unlike bitter God-botherers among whom Craig Strachan appears to want to place himself.
        After the French revolution, and during the heyday of the British Empire, the Vatican an the UK got on very well; it is only with the rise to rank and power of militant secularists in London, that things have started to turn sour.

        • CraigStrachan

          Isn’t the Pope the god-botherer-in-chief?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, what if Francis sends a few divisions of Swiss Guards down there with poleaxes?

      Ouch.

      • David Lindsay

        Right, let’s see if I am allowed to comment this time.

        Am I?

        • Wessex Man

          Um, not often that I find myself in agreement with you dear David but I find myself censored as well, do we have new people at the helm, we should know.

    • Mr.D.Advocate

      Well it didn’t take long for his views on the Falkland Islands to emerge did it? They are all ‘usurpers’ from the glorious motherland of Herr Kirchner apparently.

    • Eddie

      So, he’s half Italian and half Argentinian then – like a corned beef pizza?

      Another thing: do you think God always chooses Italians to be Pope because they’re so organised and incorruptible? Or maybe because he just likes his penne?

      I was just sort o wonderin, like… 2000 years and how many English popes (1); how many German (1), and how many Italian? (30? Or maybe 300 or even 3000 if you’re claiming for an EU grant per Pope eh?)

  • paulus

    What can we expect….disappointment, those of us of a religious bent were praying for St Malachy’s prophecy of Peter the Roman ascending the papal throne an Italian Pietro. But no, a 33/1 outsider stole the crown or mitre, or whatever, its called.

    At 5/2 we had to wager big to get any real return on the favourite who was an Italian, I was so convinced that prophecy would prevail, I talked a friend into backing Scola, as she doesn’t normally bet and has a vicious temper, I now have to make up her losses as well. Although I stopped short of paying out 33/1 as she insisted I do, as her normal method of picking the Grand National winner with a pin, was more scientific and would surely have yielded the winner.

    Thank God Papal betting is not instituted annually,

    • Andy

      It is a ‘Tiara’.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      If I was betting this, I would have wanted to wheel the Italian with a few of the longshots, if they had that on the card.

  • Roy

    Well I hope it is a traditional no change. Not that it will make much difference to this non Catholic. But isn’t there enough change in the world for changes sake? Doesn’t society seem all obsessed with new ways of coupling pairs together and seeing who is the bravest in condemning Christian religion? No harm in this age of weirdism can come from some support of the old Churches.

    • Daniel Maris

      Whilst not a Catholic, I admire the continuity of the Church. Why should a Church that has survived for 2000 years change itself out of recognition? I think thoroughgoing modernism would destroy Catholicism. They should focus on eliminating child abuse, which has done most to undermine the Church’s credibility.

      • FMarion

        Daniel: I am a Catholic and I find your point on abuse to be a fair one, but it needs to be qualified. First, let me say that, like every practicing Catholic I know, I regard sexual abuse of any type to be abhorrent, and sexual abuse by clerics to be a scandlous sin and crime of the worst sort. Along with some very fine bishops, priests and others, I also have been part of the effort to oust the abusers and ensure that it does not occur again. In the US, at least, the effort is largely complete–in most dioceses the peak of the abuse was in 1982-83 and there have been few occurences in the last twenty years.

        Having dealt with abusers–most of whom feel persecuted and very sorry for themselves–however, I don’t think it is possible to eliminate it entirely. They are simply too good at hiding and waiting. But we have made it far, far harder for them in the Catholic church in the US, and some Protestant churches have done similar things. (By the way, while he seems often scorned on these threads, Pope Benedict XVI took actions while a cardinal to make it much easier for us to get rid of abusers; unlike many in Rome (and the US) he understood the problem and found ways to streamline the process).

        However, while we have chased most of them out of the church and made it far harder for them to commit abuse if they remain, there are more of them than you can imagine and in the US we’ve made almost no progress in chasing them out of our government-run schools, and I’m willing to bet that Britian hasn’t either.

        The sad truth is that child molesters go where the children are. They get employed by schools, social service agencies, youth sports leagues, the boy scouts and every other type of activity that has significant contact with children. And very often you find that it is like a communicative disease–child abusers were themselves very often abused as children. It is a very big problem.

        • Fergus Pickering

          There is an articke in Quadrant, the right-wing Australian publication, that shows the Catholic church is LESS likely than other churches to harbour paedophiles. It is well researched, as Quadrant’s articles usually are. What I think is true is that a large proportion of Catholic priests is homosexual, which is indeed what you would expect. I have not the slightest objection to homosexual priests, but the Catholic hierarchy has. And as for woman prets. Brrrr.

          • FMarion

            Fergus: Thanks for the reply. I think that magazine is probably right–although, of course, one pedophile is one too many. As for homosexual priests, I have no problem with the chaste ones. I have found, though, that the actively homosexual ones are a barrier to getting rid of the pedarests. Most actively homosexual priests are not pedarests, but in America, at least, almost all our child abusing priests were homosexual and for whatever reason their crimes were often abetted or hidden by non-abusing but homosexual priests (and bishops). The reasons for this appear complex, but the situation is very real. And, of course, sexually active priests of any orientation (except married ones–and we do have some married priests in the US) present other serious problems as well.

      • telemachus

        While a big thing in Europe child abuse is as nothing to the RC Churches domination by the rich in the third world
        Pope Francis is different.
        He is a simple man dedicated to the poor and in many ways is in the tradition of Oscar Romero and the liberation theologists
        The world will be better

      • victor67

        But child abuse is linked to the insistence on celibacy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Interesting concept…..only single persons commit child abuse…….

        • Hugh

          Is it? That’s interesting. What study are you thinking of?

        • FMarion

          Victor: No it is not. In the US, approximately 95% of the victims were young teenage boys. Their abusers had not interest in getting married. Meanwhile in our public schools it is estimated there are 100,000 cases of sexual abuse of pupils every year–with much of it committed by married teachers (including often female teachers).

          • Austin Barry

            Agreed. Endemic paedophilia is the problem, not celibacy.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Paedophilia is endemic to the human race. Young boys and girls are sexually attractive.

              • Austin Barry

                Are they Fergus? I don’t find them so.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Your own sexual preferences, Austin, are not at issue. Nor are mine. But boys and girls of, say, twelve ARE sexually attractive. Just look around you. And if you have any interest in history, look around the fusty old books. When men are allowed to they MARRY twelve-yea-v olds.

                  And pray why was Shirley Temple the biggest-earning star in Hollywood? And Maculay Culkin didn’t do so badly either.

                • Austin Barry

                  Fergus, stop digging.

      • Eddie

        Well, the Church could go back and undo the change that happened in the 11th century when it was decided that priests had to be celibate (though many popes who were fathers seemed to ignore this as much as their vows of poverty…)

        As to what we can expect from the new Argentinian Pope. Well, maybe a handball in extra time that allows a goal to be scored? Or perhaps a sudden bolshy colonialist claim on some islands 4000 miles from the Vatican?

  • CraigStrachan

    Would a bit of openess and honesty be too much to expect?

    • David Lindsay

      It certainly would be on here tonight.

  • James Strong

    Did you predict that he was a likely winner?
    Did you name him as a contender?
    Face facts, we have very little idea what we can expect.
    This is all a known unknown.
    Faced with one of those it doesn’t do any good to pretend to have knowledge or understanding.

    • Vrai Telemachus

      he looks a good man
      with a good track record.
      we may be hopeful
      *
      Via Facebook D3

      • telemachus

        Click on the Vrai post to spot the lie

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