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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Popes as We Knew Them

Pope Francis transcends the concept of change agent. By suspending the "Bishop of Bling" for his extraordinary lifestyle  (German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz), he forever changed the nature of the Papacy.

After 2000 years of the papacy, Pope Francis may be too much to take for some old style Vatican types, but there's no turning back. Future pope's will have to prove themselves worthy of his legacy. Future Papal conclaves, those secret seminars where Popes are elected, will have to evaluate who is worthy to fill the shoes of St. Peter while retaining the humility standards now established by Pope Francis.

Given the pomp and circumstance of the Vatican, combined with the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, has clouded modern faithful from reflecting on how humbly the first Popes must have lived. 
St. Peter was martyred and subsequent pontiffs were subject to persecution. I have no idea when Popes decided to become affluent, but this attribute accompanied centuries of corruption and some debauchery.  

Pope Francis put the brakes on the exclusivity of the papacy like pulling up the tracks on a runaway train. Hopefully, his progressive reforms won't create an irreparable Vatican train wreck. Nevertheless, living with a papal change agent (i.e. Pope Francis) isn't for the faint hearted. I'm thinking many in the Vatican are fleeing to villas where they can experience respite from the change drama.

Popes as we once knew them, as privileged pontiffs, are thankfully relics of a bygone era. When Pope Francis first met the ecstatic cheering crowds in St. Peter's Square, he instantly changed the papacy forever. 

Popes, as we knew them, will never, ever be the same. 

So, we pray for Pope Francis to live a long and happy life. Frankly, it's hard to imagine anyone in the College of Cardinals who can currently fill the shoes of this particular Jesuit who inherited the shoes of St. Peter, who, after all, was once a humble fisherman.

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