March 14 — Pope Francis 1 year and 1 day

Friday  March 14  —  Pope Francis — first anniversary

One year ago yesterday a just-elected pope stepped out on a balcony in front of thousands of people waiting to meet him, and begin to learn what sort of humanity he would bring to his new job.  Instead of blessing the crowd, Francis asked those people to bless him.  This morning marks one year after his first day at work.

Francis has a gift of recognizing leadership as a matter of mutuality more than distance.  This first year he keeps raising the question:   “Where is the Church”?  A Pope can do that just by showing up in one unlikely place or another.  When he chose to celebrate Holy Thursday services in  a prison instead of in St. Peter’s Basilica, when as part of the liturgy he washed the feet of prisoners — including several women (whom some priests have been known to exclude from that ancient ritual) and several muslims, he said of that hard place;  “The church is here.”  When he went to Lampedousa, an island of Italy’s coast from which thousands of desperate refugees try to migrate into Europe, in sight of which many of them drown in their desperation,  he said of that hard place: “The church is here.”  With a world full of the human places where the church can be found, Francis seems to say, it can take a lifetime to learn how to listen for God in so many different languages.   Perhaps Francis had something like this in mind when he spoke to the bishops of Brazil last July of the need for church leaders to slow down, to take time to listen.

Hence today’s post, taken from that talk.

Have a good weekend; enjoy spring’s unpredictabilities.

john st sj

From the address of Pope Francis to the bishops of Brazil, July 2013 

 “People today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness. Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble?”

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