A Radical Whisper

23 September 2013 |permalink | email article

Frank Bruni, in a New York Times op-ed, said it wasn’t the particulars of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking message in an interview published last week that stopped him in his tracks, gave fresh hope to many embittered Catholics and caused hardened commentators to perk up. It was the sweetness of his timbre, the meekness of his posture. It was the revelation that a man can wear the loftiest of miters without having his head swell to fit it, and can hold an office to to which the term “infallible” is often attached without forgetting his failings.

In the interview, Francis called himself naive, worried that he’s often been rash in the past and made clear that the flock harbored as much wisdom as the shepherds. Instead of commanding people to follow him, he invited them to join him. And so gently, in what felt like a whisper.  What a surprising portrait of modest in a church that had lost tough with it. But Francis’ tone so far has been interesting not just as a departure for the church but as counterpoint to the prevailing sensibility in our country, where humility is endangered if not quite extinct. Francis cast himself as a struggling pastor, determined to work in a collaborative fashion. He characterized himself as a sinner.

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