Friday, March 15, 2013

Assessing Pope Francis

Here are my preliminary thoughts on Pope Francis:

1. He has a reputation for being more down to earth than many Catholic prelates. That’s an improvement.

But at best that means he’s a humble man in an arrogant job. An emperor can be a personally modest man, but he’s still the emperor. The papacy is fundamentally hubristic.

2. There’s a lot of talk about how he will be an advocate for the poor. But is that just a euphemism for the boilerplate “social justice” message we’re used to hearing from Catholic prelates like the USCCB? The message that helped get Barack Obama elected and reelected? Baptized distributive justice, a la John Rawls?

3. There’s also a lot of talk about his Christocentric, gospel-oriented piety. But Catholic piety isn’t Christocentric. Catholic piety is centered on the seven sacraments, the Rosary, cult of the saints, as well as the personality-cult of the papacy itself.   

It also depends on how you define the work of Christ. Roman Catholicism defines the work of Christ very differently than the NT.

4. As a Latin American prelate, he may well use the papacy to launch a new counter-reformation against evangelical mission in Latin America.

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