Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Kind of Pope We've Needed

My faith was never really in danger, but it needed a real boost, a real shot in the arm.

The election of Pope Francis has provided that for me. His predecessor was not without certain strengths, and the press has been presenting various contrasts and continuities between the two, but for me, the main difference is this...

Francis genuinely loves us. People can sense it. They can feel it. The sad truth is, Benedict, for all of is intellectual strengths, held many of us in a kind of cool contempt. He was a relentless scold.

A particular subset of traditionalists has fallen into sheer panic over Francis, as especially shown by the way they've flipped out over his washing of the feet of females. What a spectacular failure they show in their ability to internalize the Gospels. They give truth to the old saying, "They only obey the Pope when he obeys them."

The symbolism of the Washing of the Feet is not meant to represent the ordination of priests but the injunction upon the priests to be servant leaders. To be the Servants of the Servants of God. I was particularly moved by some of these letters written by inmates in a juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles, after Francis had washed the feet of incarcerated youth in Italy.
Dear Pope Francis, Thank you for washing the feet of youth like us in Italy. We also are young and made mistakes. Society has given up on us, thank you that you have not given up on us.

Dear Pope Francis, My many friends are in two different maximum security prisons in one of our state’s 33 state prisons.Calif. I am writing to tell you that I feel bad that more youth of color are in prison in our state than any other place in the world. I am inviting you to come here next year to wash our feet, many of who have been (given) sentences to die in prison. God bless you.

Dear Pope Francis, I read that the harshest sentence that a youth can receive in Italy is 20 years. I wish this was true here. I hope I hear back from you. I have been catholic and glad I am catholic because I have a pope like you. I will pray for you every day because we need examples of God like you are in this violent world.

Dear Pope Francis, When Jesus washed the feet of his friends he gave an example of humility. I have been raised to believe that it is only with respect in hurting your enemy that you are a man. Tonight you and Jesus show me something in this washing of the feet something very different. I hope we kids learn from this.

Dear Pope Francis, I have never been to Rome. I do not know if it is near Los Angeles because all my youth I have only known my neighborhood. I hope one day I will be given a second chance and receive a blessing from you and maybe even have my feet washed on Holy Thursday.