.- Each of the last three Popes has had a different but complementary emphasis, highlighting different aspects of the faithful and the Church, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
“A good way to understand the different gifts of each of these recent pontiffs might be to use the imagery of soul, head and heart,” the cardinal explained in a Sept. 30 opinion piece for the New York Post.
The three most recent Popes – Blessed John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis – “are all giants,” Cardinal Dolan said, and each “has particular talents.”
“John Paul II emphasized the soul,” he suggested.
“His eloquent calls to prayer; his accent on the revival of the spirit; his concentration on the sacraments and devotions of the church, which bring the grace and mercy of Jesus; his tender trust of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his record ‘saint-making,’ cogently reminded us that the soul comes first.”
“In Pope Benedict XVI we have a successor of St. Peter who emphasized the head,” Cardinal Dolan continued, noting that the recently retired Pope helped to “renew the church’s vast intellectual heritage, and remind us so effectively that faith and reason are hardly at odds, but actually allies.”
“And now, Pope Francis emphasizes the heart,” he said.
“Warmth, mercy, joy, tenderness, outreach, acceptance, love,” the cardinal observed, “all flow from the heart, and those are the words most used by Pope Francis.”
“Don’t get me wrong: All three knew well that the soul, the head and the heart were all essentials,” Cardinal Dolan explained. “But each had a particular favorite.”
He added that God “seems to have given us the pope we needed for a particular era.”
“Every person needs a soul, a head, a heart,” the cardinal pointed out, as “does the person we call 'Mother Church'” and as does “each one of us.”