Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Over at Crux, the new Boston endeavor by John Allen, Jr., the man himself addresses the recent run of papal appointments.  Conservatives have been enlathered by the demotion (real or perceived) of Cardinal Raymond Burke, and the recent appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Allen, though, points to recent appointments to the International Theological Commission. Then he surmises:

To be clear, all of these people are accomplished thinkers who are eminently qualified to advise the Vatican on doctrinal matters. It’s hard not to be struck, however, by the fact that they seem to come largely from one side of the street.

So, what gives? Is Francis suffering from multiple personality syndrome, or is there another explanation?

Yes, there is:  we're seeing now Francis' vision coming into focus, and it's not, Allen argues, what some think or fear.

Yet Francis is a hands-on pope, and he wouldn’t sign off on these decisions if he weren’t aware of what they meant. 

Perhaps the best hypothesis is that what Francis is really after isn’t a turn to the left, but a new balance. He’s said he wants the church to be in dialogue with everyone, and one way to accomplish that is to ensure a mix of points of view in leadership positions. 

Pope John XXIII allegedly once said, “I have to be pope both for those with their foot on the gas, and those with their foot on the brake.” Though the saying may be apocryphal, the wisdom is spot-on, and Francis’ recent personnel moves seem to reflect some of the same thinking.

Read the whole thing here.

Very good--and a neat reference to St. John XXIII.  It always seemed Pope Benedict XVI sought balance, too.  From the moment of his election's announcement, when he concluded his first blessing by asking for the young to pray for him, through his encyclicals, Benedict sought to balance pastoral care with his formidable intellectual powers.  Thus the label "God's Rottweiler" always seemed misconstrued.  He, like Francis, are trying to be God's shepherd.  Isn't that part of what the job entails?

Of course, as a child of the mid-80s, I hear "foot on the gas, foot on the brake" and I think of one song:

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