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I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The humble Pope Francis

Courtesy of www.uscatholic.org

Pope Francis is capturing this non-Catholic's attention and making me smile on occasion as well. Frank Bruni at the NY Times captures how Francis' humility paradoxically empowers his leadership in response to the usual controversial issues:

Bruni writes:

IT’S about time. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has surveyed the haughty scolds in its ranks, noted their fixation on matters of sexual morality above all others and said enough is enough. I’m not being cheeky with this one-word response. Hallelujah. 

But it wasn’t the particulars of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking message in an interview published last week that stopped me in my tracks, gave fresh hope to many embittered Catholics and caused hardened commentators to perk up.

It was the sweetness in his timbre, the meekness of his posture. It was the revelation that a man can wear the loftiest of miters without having his head swell to fit it, and can hold an office to which the term “infallible” is often attached without forgetting his failings. In the interview, Francis called himself na├»ve, worried that he’d been rash in the past and made clear that the flock harbored as much wisdom as the shepherds. Instead of commanding people to follow him, he invited them to join him. 

And did so gently, in what felt like a whisper.

What a surprising portrait of modesty in a church that had lost touch with it.
And what a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it.

That’s what stayed with me, not the olive branch he extended to gay people or the way he brushed aside the contraception wars but his personification of a virtue whose deficit in American life hit me full force when I spotted it here, in his disarming words. Reading and then rereading the interview, I felt like a bird-watcher who had just stumbled upon a dodo.

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