I’m still getting to know the new Pope–Francis–but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve learned so far. He seems to follow the way and the teachings of Jesus quite literally by caring for the poor, washing people’s feet, and loving his neighbors. Someone left an article about Pope Francis on my desk recently in which he says some things that resonate with our year-long, every-member mission trip to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. The excerpt below is from Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal, March 30.
Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit priest who ended up working for J. P. Morgan, remembers a story he heard about the new Pope—Francis. He says:
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was cardinal in Buenos Aires, they did some study that said the ambit of real influence of a church is about 600 meters. So he said, “Why don’t we have more storefront churches—put people out there, have more impact?” A priest answered: “If we did that people might not come to the church.” Cardinal Bergoglio asked: “How many people are coming to the church anyway?”
The point, said Mr. Lowney, is to be out there, among the people, like the earliest apostles: “We should not be talking to ourselves, we should be looking for the poor sheep…and not be condemning things we don’t like.”
Mr. Lowney sees the church, particularly in America, as roughly divided between those who see themselves as progressive and those who see themselves as traditional—what he called “the social-justice people and the personal-morality people.” He thinks Francis might “come up with a unifying force that gets us beyond that.”
Wouldn’t that be a good thing? If the church in America were not divided between the social-justice people and the personal-morality people, but united as a powerful force to do both–to love and change the world? I think that’s what Jesus may have had in mind in the first place, when he taught his disciples to pray that God’s kingdom would come, and God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
May it be so.