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Every body matters

Mark 2:1-5

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (KJV)

Bonventure, Life of St Francis, Chapter 1.5

Now on a day while he was riding over the plain that lieth beneath the city of Assisi, he met a certain leper, and this unforeseen meeting filled him with loathing. But when he recalled the purpose of perfection that he had even then conceived in mind, and remembered that it behoved him first of all to conquer self, if he were fain to become the soldier of Christ, he leapt from his horse and ran to embrace him. When the leper stretched forth his hand as though to receive an alms, he kissed it, and then put money therein. Then forthwith mounting his horse, he looked round him on all sides, and the plain was spread before him unbroken, and no trace of that leper might he see. Then, filled with wonder and joy, he began devoutly to chant praises unto the Lord, purposing from this to rise ever unto greater heights. (Trans. E.G. Salter)

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Thanks for posting it, Scott. So beautiful. That's what I thought of, too, when I saw it -- the man lowered from the roof.(I like your headline, too. Reminds me of the old song Mr. Rogers used to sing: "Every body's fancy, every body's fine. Your body's fancy, and so is mine!")

Like in the gospels where the evangelist quotes those in the crowd saying "God has visited his people." Whenever a follower of Christ loves another it is another way of God visiting. This pope is on message with his actions.

Here is another pope greeting a child with leukemia many decades ago:http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/10/15/20/2151435/7/628x471.jpgOne of my favorite images.

"Authentic power is in service."

He looks and sounds like a wonderful priest, and he is very moving.Must resist. Must not fall in love with this pope. Must at least wait for decisions on the sexual abuse scandal, the new missal, or collegiality, before yielding to his charm. This is a hopeful wait.

I like Claire's post since my emotions could surely run away with him on this change of style and apparently on priorties. I hope that this is more than "infatuation" and there will rally be a "there," there. I, also, am self-restraingly hopeful

See this (4th picture down): http://blog.sfgate.com/parenting/2011/06/09/when-the-pope-visited-san-fr..."4. The biggest story of the Pope John Paul IIs San Francisco visit was a spontaneous moment. Four-year-old Brendan ORourke, one of 62 AIDS patients waiting for to be blessed by the pope inside Mission Dolores, touched the pope as he passed by and said Hi, Viva Papa! The pope turned and embraced the child, which was a much bigger deal in the pre-Magic Johnson-has-AIDS 1980s, when people still thought AIDS could be transmitted from casual contact. Brendan, who was born premature and contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, lived for three more years. The pope died in 2005."JPII was not my favorite, but this gesture of his will always be remembered by all of us in the Bay Area.

Here's another charming addition to the lore about Pope Francis' spiritual practice. His favorite Marian devotion is said to be to Our Lady Untier of Knots. Never heard of it? Me neither, but it goes all the way back to the first century. There are even novenas to her. I love the metaphor. So simple, so expressive. http://www.taylormarshall.com/2013/03/mary-untier-of-knots-pope-francis....

Claire,You speak for me about Francis. Then I came across this in the WaPo, courtesy of Gene Palumbo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/pope-francis-was-often-... Francis was often quiet on Argentine sex abuse cases as archbishopBy Nick Miroff, Monday, March 18, 5:40 PM Snips: Quiet is the least of it, actually."But during most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced; nor did he extend apologies to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light.He has been totally silent, said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentinas U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case.Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself....The case of Father Grassi has been particularly troublesome to childrens advocates here because Bergoglio was widely viewed as close to the young priest, who told reporters before his conviction that he spoke with Bergoglio often and that the archbishop never let go of my hand.Grassi was not expelled from the priesthood after the guilty verdict. Instead, church officials led by Bergoglio commissioned a lengthy private report arguing that Grassi was innocent.</iBergoglios critics contend in one of Argentinas most egregious abuse cases, another priest in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was assigned to work with children even when church leaders knew of allegations against him.After local parishioners accused Father Mario Napoleon Sasso of molesting children in a poor, rural province of eastern Argentina in the early 1990s, he was sent to a private rehabilitation center for wayward clergy, La Domus Mariae (the House of Mary), north of Buenos Aires. He lived for two years at the center and was then reassigned to work in a soup kitchen for poor children in a town outside the capital. There, he went on to sexually abuse girls as young as 3.His bedroom was adjacent to the cafeteria, and it had the only bathroom in the chapel, said Moreau, the attorney for the victims families.Moreau said that in 2003 he accompanied two nuns and a priest who had denounced Sasso, along with the victims families, to a meeting with the Vatican emissary in Buenos Aires. He said the families were told to be patient and were offered gifts of rosaries blessed by the pope.They just wanted to cover it up, Moreau said.Three years later, as the evidence against Sasso mounted, the families asked to see Bergoglio, Moreau said, but they never received a response. Sasso was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He has since been released on parole.Religious-affairs scholar Fortunato Mallimaci, a sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires, said that as Pope Francis, Bergoglio will face an entirely different set of expectations for how to handle abuse claims. In the United States and Europe, there is a clear separation of church and state, he said. Not in Latin America. There, he said, civil society is often too weak to take on the power of the clergy, and suspicion falls first on the accuser, not the accused.But, Mallimaci added, as a bishop from Latin America, he is going to be very sensitive to what is going on in society around him and the politics of the era. If he wants to reestablish the churchs credibility, hell be the first to say that no abuse will be tolerated, whether in Washington or Rome or Buenos Aires.There is more in the article. Borgoglio is credited with "evolving" in his understanding. May it be a very fast evolution from perpetrator protector to child protector.I still have hope, given the sense of the man so far. But what a come-down this article is. I had not looked at the abuse tracker today, but apparently I should have.

Again, we have to be careful drawing conclusions from one or two articles. On the other hand there is this from Thomas Reese. "Pope Francis is on record as supporting zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of minors by priests. In a 2012 interview, then-Cardinal Bergoglio said that a bishop called him for advice on how to deal with it, and "I told him to take away the priests' licenses, not to allow them to exercise the priesthood any more, and to begin a canonical trial in that dioceses court." The rest of the short article is here. http://ncronline.org/blogs/pope-francis-supports-zero-tolerance-child-abuse

I wish he had taken his own advice, Bill. Let's see.

Thomas Reese has been busy. Check this out. "In an 2012 interview about celibacy, then-Cardinal Bergoglio notes that in the Eastern churches priests can be married and "They are very good priests." He says that "It is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change."He states his support for celibacy in the interview. "I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures," he explains. "Tradition has weight and validity." That is as open to celibacy as any pope ever. The rest of Reese's article has more pithy stuff. http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-francis-open-optional-celibacy

Carolyn, the WP article quotes the 90's. Even Bernardine was off center then as well as everyone else except Thomas Doyle. The other statements need to be verified as to veracity. Dont' jump to conclusions yet. Remember the consensus in the US was not widespread until after 2002.

Carolyn, Thanks for mentioning this. I've been wondering about it.

What a beautiful gesture by our new Holy Father.

Two more tidbits:A sign in the crowd at the inaugural Mass said, "Pope Francis, good morning".When asked about her meeting with Pope Francis, the President of Argentina, who is often at odds with him, replied, "Well, that's the first time I've ever been kissed by a pope".Now we'll get down to business. Sigh. When and how will the changes come?

A couple of contradictory thoughts:- Personal holiness of character does not imply good governance. It is possible to have someone who is a likable man but a disastrous pope. (I remember that George Bush was said to easily well up and have much empathy for the people he met, but it didn't prevent him from taking decisions that greatly increased the plight of the nation's poor). - Yet, personal holiness could provide direct influence and have a positive impact on the church from the grassroots up, by generating goodwill or by being a model and inspiring the people to individually change.

The movie "Elefante blanco", that just came out in the US, is about Argentina, priests, and the poor. It almost seems like a documentary at times. Seeing it might be a good way to get a sense of where Pope Francis is coming from.

A good development. Washing the feet of prisoners rather than retired priests gives a clearer message."In a sudden announcement this morning from the Holy See, Pope Francis has yet again turned Vatican protocol on its head shredding the earlier plan of beginning the Easter Triduum in St Peter's Basilica, the new pontiff has instead opted to go to a juvenile prison in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, at which he'll wash the feet of 12 inmates.The opening chapter of the church's most sacred moment of the year, while the rite normally takes place in at St John Lateran, this year's Evening Mass was previously slated to happen in the Vatican Basilica as the new pontiff has yet to take possession of the Lateran the "Mother and Head" of all churches, which technically serves as the cathedral of the bishop of Rome. Historically, the Popes have washed the feet of 12 retired priests of their diocese at the liturgy.

This does look more like St. Francis than any prettied-up foot washing I have seen.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-14/cardinal-bergoglio-washes-woman27s... points out that the juvenile prison Francis is going to has both men and women inmates.

Sandro Magister speculates that Francis will change the hierarchical structure of the Church before he reforms the Curia. The Synod of bishops might form the foundation of the collegial structure. After it is established, speculates Magister, the Curia would be downgraded to assistants, not policy makers and enforcers.http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350472?eng=y

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About the Author

Scott D. Moringiello is a Lawrence C. Gallen fellow in the Humanities at Villanova University, where he teaches the Augustine and Culture Seminar and courses in the theology department.