Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Pope: good and bad things they say about him

Here's the best thing I've found about Cardinal Bergoglio, the new pope. During a 48-hour public service strike in Buenos Aires, he called attention to the differences between "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice.”  Also he took the bus to work in Argentina instead of his official limo.

And this: In an address to his priests he said: “In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptise the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage … These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalise the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptised!”

Left, Pope Francis. Right, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in 2010, next to a portrait of Yves Domergue, one of the disappeared of the 1976-1983 Argentine dictatorship.
The worst thing said of him is that he was criticized by the Jesuits for his behaviour during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina.  During the period of the dictatorship, the Catholic Church failed to confront the regime, even as it was kidnapping and killing thousands; for which the church eventually last October, issued a blanket apology.

The Jesuits are Bergoglio’s own order, so there’s a story in there that we’ll be reading about soon.

I've seen disparate accounts of his relationship to liberation theology - something else to keep on eye on in the coming days. Liberation theology is described by proponents as "an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor". Detractors dub it Christianized Marxism. Hurrah.

And Bergoglio tried but failed, by outspoken criticism of president Cristina Kirchner, to stop her enacting socially liberal measures including gay marriage and free contraceptives for all.

Some church optimists expected that celibacy, female ordination, same-sex marriage, the handling of clergy sexual abuse revelations, will all be up for discussion under a new pope. From what little I've seen in the past couple of hours, I doubt they're still optimistic tonight. And will dissident Irish priest Fr Tony Flannery, now be hopeful of reinstatement?

The foregoing are some of the things I'll be keeping an eye on in the coming days and weeks.

My sources on Pope Francis: