A Novel Leader: Is Francis New News?

Pope Francis

(via Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)

Excerpts from a Guardian article on the Pope:

“‘A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”

We’ve heard that sort of answer somewhere before, I think.  Answering a hostile person’s loaded question with another question, gently and compassionately ridiculing the supposed boundaries of the combative question being asked (Luke 10:25-26; Luke 20:3; John 18:33-34).

Explaining his decision to live in “The Casa” (where he was housed during the discernment and election of the new Pope last spring) at the Vatican instead of the tradition Papal apartments: “I cannot live without people.”

What do the first chapters of Genesis lay out for all humanity to read, but that God himself committed in the beginning to never live without people?  Where people are, God is in their midst; God is present.  This is the story of Scripture, this is the Gospel–because of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, we are never alone.

On women as part of the church body: “The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions.”

Didn’t someone else speak out by word and action about women’s important place in society and in communities of faith?  This other man spoke to women of impure blood, and allowed a prostitute to touch him (John 4:7).


Pope Francis is a man deeply steeped in prayer and Scripture.  He is not upsetting the whole of the Roman Catholic Church, he is not reversing the tide of Roman Catholic theology, or doctrine, or practice.  By the examples above, he’s sticking just about as close to the classic Christian game book as a person can!  Francis is, for whatever reason, someone that our media and our wounded and our skeptics can hear in a way that we haven’t been able to hear and to listen for many, many years.

Isn’t it a beautiful wonder that simply stealing pages from Jesus’ playbook is still, thousands of years later, considered radical and exciting and irresistable?

What is it, do you think, that makes him someone to whom the world is willing to listen?

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