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Friday, March 22, 2013

Jesuit defence of Pope Francis

You are young, inexperienced, and burdened with a heavy responsibility at a dangerous time. Today we understand better what was happening, but then it was often utterly confusing. You march for the truth and non-violence but such a stance seems almost irrelevant as the struggle deteriorates into a welter of killing and ‘political cleansing’. You struggle to keep your feet.

A major preoccupation is to prevent casualties among your Jesuit companions. You call this prudence but you wonder whether the situation demands something more forthright. You are acutely aware that, as a priest, you are in less danger than the ordinary people but that your public stance can place them in mortal danger. There are disagreements among your advisors and you do not have the hindsight with which to make perfect decisions, and so you make some mistakes. But you acknowledge these and hope that people will understand.

Some will; some won’t. There are some for whom even if Francis was the very incarnation of Francis of Assisi, that would still not be good enough. Hopefully most people will be grateful that he’s human and fallible. St Paul reminds us that the gospel is carried by us, mere ‘earthen vessels’. For Christian believers the election of Pope Francis is a vivid sign of the times, and what God seems to me to be saying through it is: ‘It’s the Gospel, stupid!’

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