The Pope’s agenda

Pope Francis meets with the cardinals in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on March 15, 2013. Credit: CTV.

Pope Francis meets with the cardinals in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on March 15, 2013. Credit: CTV.

Despite Pope Francis’ immense popularity with the masses, some Catholic pundits have expressed angst and irritation over not knowing clearly where Pope Francis is going.

He hasn’t yet been officially inaugurated as Pope, but already some are clamoring to know what his agenda is, how he is going to handle this or that, (with “this or that” being each commentator’s favorite laundry list of what a Pope should do.)

The impatient are demanding his “state of the Church” address laying out his agenda.

I am afraid that nothing of the sort is coming anytime soon. I may be mistaken, but the Pope’s agenda seems to be, at least for now, that there is no agenda. Which does not mean that he doesn’t know where to go. There may not be indications of a master plan yet, but there is clearly a direction.
And to find that direction, one needs to, yes, pay attention to the signs, but without falling into the temptation of over-reading them.

Let me humbly help with the reading:

  • No, the Pope is not dismissing or ignoring his role as universal Pontiff because he called himself “the Bishop of Rome” twice; and he is not planning to admit that we Catholics were wrong all along and the Orthodox were right about the Successor of Peter being simply primus inter pares (first among equals).
  • No, he was not betraying Catholic identity when he offered a silent blessing to journalists who are not Christian or are non-believers.
  • No, he is not opposed to the good aspects of the free market because he is calling for a Church that is poor and for the poor.
  •  No, he is not going New Age on us by claiming to follow St. Francis of Assisi. He is following the saint, not the vague “Spirit of Assisi,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
  • No, he is not placing Cardinal Kasper, whose book he quoted in public, as the utmost model of Catholic orthodoxy.

I would also suggest considering – again, without over-reading – some other signs:

  •  His awareness of the need for a Curia reform when he mentioned that one name suggested to him was Adrian, for Adrian VI, the tough reformist.
  • His awareness of a pending “Jesuit issue,” both when he mentioned Clement XV as a possible name, and when the personal Secretary of the Superior General told him that they were praying for him and he quipped back, “Praying that I keep going or that I turn back?”
  • His quotation of Leon Bloy, whose “radical Catholicism” is to political correctness what garlic is to Dracula.

Let’s give Pope Francis his due time, and in the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride. So far it has been great.