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When you get your picture on the cover of the Rollin’ Stone

Someone may yet do a more substantial post on Mark Binelli’s Pope Francis cover story in Rolling Stone, but for the moment I thought I’d pull out quotes from three of the people interviewed. Context-free, maybe, but how much is needed?

Thomas Reese: “The people Francis is going to have the most trouble with are the ideologues. They’re basically like the Tea Party. They’ve made up their minds. They don’t get it. And unless they go through some major conversion, they ain’t gonna get it.”

Cornell West: “Pope Francis is a gift from heaven, a prophetic voice willing to be a critic of capitalism and imperialism. I don’t want to fetishize the pope. He heads a deeply patriarchal and homophobic organization that I’m critical of. But I love who he is, in terms of what he says, and the impact of his words on progressive forces around the world.”

Unnamed street vendor outside St. Peter’s, when asked if the increased crowds under Francis have been good for business, answers in “perfect, New York-inflected English, ‘Naw, this guy, all he does is talk about the poor, and so he’s bringing in these poorer tourists from places like Argentina. They ain’t got no money, these people! When Ratzinger was pope, Germans would pull up on a bus. They’re organized, they spend! Now, everyone wants a discount.’”

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



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Can First Things and the Acton Institute be far behind?

"When Ratzinger was pope, Germans would pull up on a bus. They’re organized, they spend! Now, everyone wants a discount."

I'm almost sorry I'm a lapsed RS subscriber as well as a lapsed RC communicant. You can't make this kind of stuff up. On the other hand, I've had a nice photo of Pope Francis on my office file cabinet, and everybody who sees it smiles and wants to talk about him. So it's nice to feel affiliated with something positive instead of the gay-haters and pedophiles.

There is an excellent article on Francis in the current issue  of Der Spiegel, 27 Jan, under the title 'Herausgefordert' ('Challenged'). If you want to sneak a look at it in a bookshop it is on pages 32-40 (Der Spiegel cleverly makes it hard to locate the cover stories inside, omitting them from the table of contents, so as to lure curious readers to buy).

Here's an item in the Rolling Stone piece that I hadn't heard about before, and that seems noteworthy:

In July, Francis forbade the traditionalist Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from saying the Latin Mass and launched an investigation of their finances. Some saw this move as a direct jab at Benedict, who had loosened restrictions on such ultratraditionalists. Francis' disdain for ultratraditionalists dates back to Buenos Aires, where the leaders of one of the groups supported by Benedict had praised the military junta and another member turned out to be a Holocaust denier. A pair of Italian journalists with links to the order attacked the pope's decision as "a slap in the face" and suggested that "the new pontificate seems to love the cameras and being in the spotlight." By the end of the year, Francis had shuttered the friars' seminary and suspended the order's ability to ordain new priests. His chief investigator described the founder of the order, who'd been banished to a religious home, as running a cult of personality.

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You'd think that if some of the church's most formidable critics as in the Rolling Stone article can see the authenticity of Papa Francesco's humility and spirit that his engaging manner could melt the hearts some of the church's own most right-wing ideologues? 

It is illogical to think that Francesco can embrace policies and pastoral practices that most of the cardinals who just elected him pope less than a year ago consider subversive.  [local example:  Here in the Bay Area we have two new prelates both of whom are hopelessly alienated from and dangerously irrelevant to the people they're suppose to shepherd - the damage they are doing and will do will take years to overcome.]  

Pope Frank has his political work cut out for him if he is really serious about igniting a season of renewal and reform for the church.

Francesco's biggest problem - and my guess is he understands this really well since he is a smart Jesuit - is that reforming the curia is little more than the proverbial rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titantic.  

Much more radical surgery is required to excise the malignancy at the heart of the body of Christ:  narcissistic clericalism, misogyny, vestigial celibacy, self-loathing ideologies about human sexuality.

Perhaps Francesco has concluded that he can't swing for the fences during his papacy?  But, he must only make the course corrections necessary to stem decades of drift and corruption that occurred under the Polish and German papacies?  

For starters maybe Francesco thinks the curia and college of cardinals needs to be cleaned-up and restructured in order to properly set the table for the next pope?  

Maybe after a decade of compassionate pastoral leadership in the papacy maybe The PEOPLE will be ready to enact real substantive reform and renewal? 

We'll see ...

There are a number of individuals whose zeal for the honor of the previous pope is meant precisely as a rebuke to the current occupant of the office. They are very happy to announce criticism of anyone who says too openly that Pope Francis is a welcome change after Pope Benedict.

Poor Lombardi. Two popes to defend. The job is getting unwieldy.

Jim Pauwels: I  read a couple of articles about the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Others who know better can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe members of the order appealed to Rome when they had concerns with some of the order's  leadership on several issues, one of which is that they began to insist on only the Latin Mass,  and not  allow the ordinary one. But there were other concerns as well and the order was in internal disarray over what was going on.  And what I read indicated, not that the head of the order was banished to a home, but that he checked himself into some kind of nursing home and then refused to give the papal representative any information, citing health issues.

I might not have this right, but nothing I read in the articles indicated the Pope was doing any kind of smackdown of the Latin Mass.  It was very interesting reading,though.


I used to faithfully buy and read Rolling Stone many, many years ago.  The last time I perused a hard copy at a news stand (maybe several years ago), I was struck by the number of ads for cigarettes and hard liquor.   

Jim, Irene is right. I can add that the head of order, fr. Manelli, is alleged to have trasferred order's properties to friends and relatives.

Frank, RS now mainly carries ads for whale-watching cruises, ovaltine, and saltine crackers.

The trads in Italy are upset also because after 14 years the first Saturday Tridentine Mass has been abolished at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome last January.

Irene and Mary, thanks for that info.  As described in the Rolling Stone article, a couple of the characteristics of that religious order (which I had never heard of before) sounded somewhat similar to the Legion of Christ, and I am wondering if the disposition of the order mentioned in the article is a precursor of what may happen to the Legion.

I believe that those who are counting on the Holy Father to:

a)  Legitimate homosexual acts

b)  Legitimate gay marriage

c)  Call for the dismantling of capitalism

d)  Call for the creation of socialist economies (defined as the complete control of all economic activities, but not necessarily the ownership of the means of         production) in North & South America, England, and Europe.

Are going to be bitterly disappointed.  Sorry.

Jim P. --

I suspect the Franciscan Fathers are quite different from the Legionaires.  The Franciscans also had a dreadful founer, like the Legionaires, but it is much, much smaller.  And the Legionaires have have the financialy backing of the likes of Carlos Slim.  I predict the Vatican will tread rather softly in the latter case.

Bob S:  and do you think that the world as we know it will fall apart if Francis does/does not do any/all of those things?  I doubt that the thrust of history in the case of these various actions will be much affected by what Francis or any other pope says about them.

If you don't believe me then look at how effective the prohibitions of contraception and abortion have been on the world in general or Catholicism in particular.

The magazine's name is Rolling Stone, not Rollin' Stone.  Why the cutesy headline?

Angela- I think its a line from the Dr Hook Song. (Another one of those great songs written by Shel Sivlerstein).

No think about it--it definitely is.

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