What exciting times for Catholics throughout the world and for all people of the world. Extraordinary times demand a leader who will be lead by the Spirit to go into the world proclaiming the Gospel for this time. Pope Francis, from his biography, is very pastoral to his Church. This is what we can conclude from his willingness to be close to the people professing the truth of the Gospel. No wonder he took the name Francis.
From this brief introduction to him, I would venture the notion that his ministry will be about shepherding his shepherds in setting their corporate bastions aside and reevaluating how they live among their sheep. John Paul II and Benedict XVI formed us with their excellent writings of philosophy and theology giving us a true appreciation for them. Adoration, the Liturgy are continuing to grow in the life of the faith for Catholics throughout the world. I see this in my travels to India and in my own country of the USA. They have lit a fire in the youth and the prolife movement is a youth movement as demonstrated in the West Coast Walk for Life.
Sadly, as I speak as an American Catholic, the Bishops have preferred to take a corporate approach in public policy and day to day operations of their diocese. I believe it is starting to change with the recent appointments of American bishops, but the demands of society inflamed with secularism, demand the bishops form the people and the people fight the prudential battles. The mixed messages of the nice photo ops with the President on the front pages of diocesan papers and national papers have given conflicting messages to Catholics especially within families. The allowing of “Catholic” universities to promote a culture counter to the morality taught in the Church have diluted our messages. I believe, Pope Francis, will make this the focus of his mission. Bishops must be about the needs of their diocese, not about sound bites about an economic poverty, but also about the poverty of spirit, mercy, justice and hunger for the Gospel and the Sacraments. I believe he will tell the Church to put on its walking shoes and spread the Gospel in their own backyard.
This is my hunch and my hope. I look forward to seeing how it plays out.