The Pope Francis Phenomenon

I have to admit that I am exhausted by all the press and internet coverage of Pope Francis. Some think he’s the bee’s knees. Others think he’s a revisionist trojan horse intent on fully implementing “the spirit of Vatican II.” Everyday Fr James Martin tweets on the refreshing new life that the Pope has brought to the Catholic Church. Everyone has to have an opinion about his latest remarks. Some work overtime trying to persuade us that Francis really didn’t mean what he said; others work overtime trying to persuade us that Francis really meant so much more than what he said. Every sentence is parsed, re-parsed, and over-parsed. It’s just too much exposure. The Francis phenomenon has reached its saturation point. I’m exhausted.

No bishop, not even the Supreme Pontiff, should have this kind of star power and command this kind of media coverage. Perhaps I should not have an opinion, since I am not Roman Catholic; but it just doesn’t seem healthy, either for the Catholic Church or for the rest of us. I wish he would retire from the limelight for six months and let us catch our breath. Even Jesus withdrew into the hills from time to time.

But I do want to positively quote a few lines from Evangelii gaudium:

Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel”.

This was well said.

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