Pope Francis greets immigrants as he arrives at the port in Lampedusa, Italy, July 8. (CNS photo/Tullio Puglia, pool)
Veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister offers some analysis worth pondering:
Benedict XVI, in effect, was different. In spite of his meek appearance,
he was often very explicit and direct in expressing his judgments and
in getting his listeners on the ropes. The earthquake unleashed by his
lecture in Regensburg remains the most spectacular effect of this. But
there was another important discourse of his that illustrates the case
It was during his third and last voyage in Germany,
in September of 2011. In Freiburg, pope Joseph Ratzinger wanted to meet
with a representative group of German Catholics “active in the Church
and in society.” And to them, as also to the bishops of Germany who were
present almost in their entirety, he serenely addressed words of deadly
severity, extremely demanding. Entirely focused on the duty of a poor
Church, “stripped of worldly wealth," “detached from the world,” “freed
from material and political burdens and privileges,” in order to be able
“to dedicate itself better and in a truly Christian way to the whole
So then, that discourse of his met with a chilly
reception and was rapidly hushed, in the first place by those to whom
the pope had addressed himself. Because precisely at them he had taken
aim with precision, asking for a change: at that German Church which he
knew very well: wealthy, satisfied, bureaucratized, politicized, but
poor in the Gospel.
WORDS AND SILENCES
Francis's way of speaking is certainly one of his most original traits.
It is simple, understandable, communicative. It has the appearance of
improvisation, but in reality is carefully studied, as much in the
invention of formulas - the "soap bubble" that he used in Lampedusa to
represent the egoism of the modern Herods - as in the fundamentals of
the Christian faith that he loves most to repeat and are crystallized in
a consoling “all is grace,” the grace of God who incessantly forgives
although all continue to be sinners.
But in addition to the
things that he says are those about which he is deliberately silent. It
cannot be an accident that after 120 days of pontificate Pope Francis
has not yet spoken the words abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage.
Bergoglio succeeded in dodging them even on the day that he dedicated
to “Evangelium Vitae," the tremendous encyclical published by John Paul
II in 1995 at the culmination of his epic battle in defense of life
“from conception to natural death.”
Karol Wojtyla and Benedict
XVI after him exerted themselves incessantly and in person to combat the
epochal challenge represented by the modern ideology of birth and
death, as also by the dissolution of the creatural duality between male
and female. Not Bergoglio. It seems well-established by now that he has
decided to remain silent on these issues that touch upon the political
sphere of the entire West, including Latin America, convinced that such
statements are not the responsibility of the pope but of the bishops of
each nation. He told the Italians in unmistakable words: “The dialogue
with political institutions is your affair.”
The risk of this
division of labor is high for Francis himself, given the hardly
flattering judgment that he has repeatedly demonstrated he has on the
average quality of the bishops of the world. But it is a risk that he
wants to take. This silence of his is another of the factors that
explain the benevolence of secular public opinion in his regard.
Read the entire piece, "A Pope Like None Before. Can He Do It?"
, posted today on the Chiesa website.