At the end of my post, I copy what Fr. Z says about Pope Francis and the media and Pope Francis' genius in his new evangelization method. I think Fr. Z is impressed with the Holy Father's apostolic journey to the United States of America! We may have a new convert to Pope Francis!
Pope Francis has won me over. He is a pastoral pope, a pope who spent all of his priesthood and episcopacy as a pastor. While I am uncomfortable with popes who have big personalities overpowering the papacy and winning people over merely by their personality and not their teachings, in our current culture I will admit that there is an element of this that is needed.
Prior to Pope St. John Paul's decline in health, he had a bigger than life personality too and a cult following. Time Magazine featured him on the cover with the bold headline, JP II SUPERSTAR!
But most in the secular media conceded that while the world loved Pope St. John Paul II, they didn't love his teachings or his Church. But I suspect he won some over in the big dragnet of celebrity.
Last night as I watch CNN's non-stop, spectacular coverage of Pope Francis, two Catholic reporters so moved by the pope simply passing a few feet in front of them in the popemobile shared a bit of their journey.
Carol Costello said she was brought up Catholic but ceased practicing. Many things were invovled in that falling away but the sex abuse scandal exacerbated it. With Pope Francis, she took a second look at the Church and why she had left and now goes to Mass every Sunday.
Then Mark Walburg was the MC for the papal event last night, a brilliant mix of entertainment and serious faith sharing by six Catholic families. Marky Mark loves his Catholic faith and stated publicly, "witnessed" that his Catholic Faith has made him who he is today, a good husband, a good father, and a good person.
He's not perfect though. I've heard him say he agrees with same sex marriage and disagrees with this, that and the other of Church teaching. Should only a perfect MC have been chosen or will Marky Mark make those who are distant from the Church come a bit closer? Time will tell.
And then there was that "gay" (I prefer the term sinner) lector at the Mass at the Garden, Mo Rocca. I don't know if he was in a state of grace or not to be the lector at a papal Mass, at any Mass. I always give people the benefit of the doubt in these situations. But are sexual sins any worse than purposely showing contempt and hatred for another person, in particular the Holy Father (which breaks the 4th Commandment and is just a vile as breaking the 6th Commandment). Think about it.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am into being a part of the Catholic Family whereby God incarnates us into His adopted family. If I am to be saved, I will be saved by remaining in that family even if holding simply to the coattails of my heavenly Father in the Church, not leaving of my own volition or being kicked out as a sign of the need for mercy and reintegration (think Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel). Being kicked out, though, while punishment is not permanent unless the one punished desires it to be that way. God always clothes in mercy the ones He kicks out. Here I am speaking of excommunication, private or public. These penalties are rare and are listed in canon law.
Being a sinner does not excommunicate a Catholic. Including sinners and saints in the Church does not dilute Church's mission. Seeing the Church as a field hospital rather than a country club is true to the lifestyle of the public ministry of Christ and thus a model for all Catholics and Holy Mother Church. We can be a walled fort, which seems unbiblical to me or we can be an open mall, similar to the mall in Washington, DC.
The parable of the dragnet that Jesus uses is a brilliant example. The Church, like a fisherman, catches all kinds of people in her net that has been cast. Isn't that the mission of the Church to cast a wide net. Doesn't judgment begin immediately and isn't it concluded at our personal judgement or the General Judgment when things are sorted out the good kept and the bad thrown out?
This metaphor can be of us individually also. At our judgement, which begins now, isn't the good that in us kept and that which is bad (sin) thrown out?
Why is Pope Francis so popular?
John Allen writes in today's Crux (a very good article): " In a divided culture in which public figures are usually known either for their personal dysfunction or their potential to whip up acrimony, anyone who says, “We can be better than this, and we can do it together,” will play well."
When Pope Benedict was Pope, the progressives whipped up acrimony against His Holiness. Those who considered themselves conservative, orthodox, traditional, were insulted at the negative content and comments in blogs. The National Catholic Reporter and the Praytell Blog are prime examples of the acrimony that they stirred up against Pope Benedict. It was and is sickening.
Now with Pope Francis, the shoe is on the other foot. So-called "conservative, orthodox, traditional" blogs have turned on him in the most acrimonious ways with their content and most of all with the comments that are made.
It has happened on my blog too. It indicates the dysfunction of our culture when it comes to family. It would have been unheard of in times past for Catholics as a part of their Catholic family to bash their fathers and mothers publicly, their brothers and sisters too. You did not air your dirty laundry publicly.
This bashing of family publicly is also transferred to the Catholic family, where God is our Father, Mary is our Mother as she is a symbol of Holy Mother Church. Pope Francis is our earthly Holy Father.
If you could read some of the comments that some make on my blog about the Holy Father, the ones I delete, you would be scandalized as I have been, or at least I hope you would be scandalized.
It is a sign of family dysfunction in our day that this occurs. And the worldwide meeting on families in Philadelphia is sorely needed for our nuclear families and for the Church family and Pope Francis by his mere presence there knows it.
This slogan tells us why Pope Francis is so popular with so many diverse people: