I love this Pope
Francis engages with an atheist
Morning Call, October 12, 2013
Eugenio Scalfari, an outspoken
atheist, is the founder of Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper. He recently sought
an interview with Pope Francis.
Francis agreed, with an impromptu
They joked during the interview about
converting each other.
“Convert you?” Francis said.
“Proselytism is solemn nonsense. You have to meet people and listen to them.”
I love this Pope. Eight popes
have spanned my life in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches. I’ve given all
appropriate respect. I loved three, and Francis is now at the top of that
trinity. The other two are John XXIII and John Paul I.
quote from the interview: “Those most affected by narcissism –
actually a kind of mental disorder – are people who have a lot of
power,” Francis said. “Heads of the Church have often been narcissists,
flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.”
Don’t you love this Pope?
about Pope Francis and two remarkable interviews he gave over the past few
weeks led me way back into my past.
Fuchs, a German Jesuit who taught at the Gregorian University in Rome during
the 1960s, informed my first experience of Christian moral theology. It was not
what I was expecting.
expecting to study the law. God’s law, church law, case studies, morality and
legality. Answers. I was primed for clear and sure answers. Rules for life.
years earlier, in college seminary, I had begun collecting answers. On 3x5 index
upper right corner of each card, I wrote topical words and phrases. From my
reading, I’d make notes on the cards. “The Catholic’s ready answer,” a quip
used by a Roman Catholic bishop on whose staff I later worked. Answers for my
ministry as a priest.
once did I question my system. Three-by-five cards did not accommodate
complexity. I upgraded with 5x7 cards. Ya gotta love a linear thinker.
with 5x7 index cards, I was ready for the clear answers I’d discover in Father
Fuchs’ moral theology class.
the first few days or weeks – I don’t remember – he read and talked about
passages from St. Paul’s letters. “Hello,” I thought. Was this the moral
theology class? Someone’s reading from the Bible. So at odds with
my expectations, Josef Fuchs walked his students through passages where Paul
says we have been changed, transformed, reborn. In Christ.
suggested again and again that in this rebirth, we discover the defining moment
for Christian living: that the answer to “What must I do?” is contained in the
question, “Who am I?” and that the Christian moral imperative is rooted not in
law but in Jesus Christ and in the person I have become in Christ. An early
version of WWJD?
soon follows “You are a new creation,” Fuchs pointed out, with “Therefore, BE
(who you are)!” This sequence was Paul’s moral theology. You are a
new creation in Christ. You are mystery. Let the mystery unfold. Let the secret
be told. Be reconciled. Be glad. Be thankful. Be compassionate. Be a new
Father Fuchs suggested, was the heart of Christian morality: Jesus Christ and
the new creation we have become in Christ. He called it the Pauline
Indicative-Imperative: You are a new creation in Christ.
crucial to recognize the priority of the Indicative. Reversing the order, putting
the imperative before the indicative, can lead to frustration and despair, even
some hypocrisy. That we are a new creation has to be first. Only
then, can we be or do with integrity.
Pauline Indicative-Imperative is the basis for the priority of prayer and
worship in our lives.
tore up my index cards.
Francis, it seems, is rewriting the papal user’s guide.
the way you talk and from what I understand,” Scalfari told Francis, “you are
and will be a revolutionary pope.”
I love this Pope.
Lewellis, email@example.com, a retired Episcopal priest, served on the
Bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem for 24 years and on the
Bishop’s staff of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown for 13 years before