More valuable commentary on the new pope that has caught my eye as the day has gone on:
At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl translates an interview that Roly Villani did recently for Tiempo Argentina with Clelia Luro. Luro is the widow of Jerónimo Podestá, an Argentinian bishop who left the priesthood to marry and was active in promoting married priests in the Catholic church. Cardinal Bergoglio, the new Pope Francis, was the only Argentinian church official to visit Podestá in the hospital as he was dying in 2000, and Luro praises Bergoglio for his support of her and her husband, and his solicitude for her following Podestá's death.
He's going to turn things around like John XXIII. He has already started making gestures.
Equally valuable and also at the Igelsia Descalza site is an article by Concha Lago translated by Rebel Girl and Herman Juancito, in which Jon Sobrino talks about Pope Francis. Sobrino is a fellow Jesuit, and is a liberation theologian with significant ties to El Salvador.
Sobrino decries the spectacle of the recent papal election, which he characterizes (and here I hear echoes of Ivone Gebara) as a "ministry of apotheosis" that is all about veiling and shoring up power. He also notes frankly (and here, I think what he says contrast with Bro. Daniel Horan's reading of these matters at Dating God which I cited earlier today) that Bergoglio is not a liberationist, and stood at a decisive distance from the popular church of base communities and liberation theology during the junta period, without being complicit in the atrocities of the junta:
It doesn’t seem fair to speak of complicity, but it seems correct to say that in those circumstances Bergoglio distanced himself from the Popular Church which was committed to the poor. He wasn’t a Romero -- celebrated for his defense of human rights and assassinated while exercising his pastoral ministry.
But Sobrino also wishes to stress that Bergoglio has found his own way of living in solidarity with the poor apart from the liberationist model, and this strongly marks his pastoral style:
On the other hand, since 1998, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he has accompanied the poorly treated sectors of the big city in various ways -– and with concrete deeds. One eye witness talks about how, on the first anniversary of the Cromagnon tragedy [when a fire during a rock concert took the lives of 200 young people], Bergoglio was present and forcibly demanded justice for the victims. He used prophetic language at times. He denounced the evils that grind the flesh of the people and he named them specifically: human trafficking, slave labor, prostitution, drug-trafficking, and many others. For some, perhaps the greatest virtue and the greatest strength for carrying out his present papal ministry is that Bergoglio is a man who is open to dialogue with the marginalized from their suffering.
Earlier today, I also meant to take note of Jamie Manson's recent important commentary on the Communion and Liberation movement and the new pope's connections to that movement. As Manson argues, in key respects, the Communion and Liberation movement has grown up in direct opposition to the liberationist model of church and theology, and those who expect Francis to reform the papacy and the Curia would, Manson thinks, do well to study the CL model of church. It's heavily authoritarian and obediential, stressing the obligation of Catholics to adhere unquestioningly to what the pastoral leaders of the church demand.
And, finally, there's this response to Francis by another fellow Jesuit, James Keenan, who teaches moral theology at Boston College and who states that he was "stunned" by the papal election, is "overwhelmed" by Francis's commitment to the poor, and finds the new pope's style "very impressive."
Keenan's most cherished hope for the new pope: "As he learns of the church from elsewhere, I hope he will be a good listener to others, especially to women. I hope he makes sure the conclave for his successor is not womanless."
The people of God keep talking, dreaming, arguing, criticizing, hoping. I find it frankly refreshing that this papal election is producing such wide commentary, evoking so many dreams (some of them that strike me as wild--but why dream if not wildly?), and is forcing insulated middle-class Catholics in places like the U.S. to start boning up on topics like "liberation theology" and "base communities" and "solidarity with the poor." It's forcing us to listen to voices entirely new to our insular ears--the kind of voices that I myself dreamt of more Americans hearing when I commented weeks ago on President Obama's choice to invite a gay Cuban-American poet to read his work at the president's second inauguration.
The graphic is from a series of Francis of Assisi that Phil Ewing posted at her wonderful Blue Eyed Ennis site last year for the feast day of St. Francis. Phil notes that it's originally from the oh hey tumblr site. (Later: Chris Morley has helpfully pointed out that the image I had used is under copyright--see his comment in the thread below. I've deleted it and used another from Phil's page that isn't under copyright, insofar as I know.)