Monday, January 6, 2014

James Carroll on Pope Francis: ‘WHO AM I TO JUDGE?’

Pope Francis impresses me as a man who will walk the talk. Perhaps -- just perhaps -- his leadership will have sufficient impact to spur others to following him in his commitment to building a better world.

WHO AM I TO JUDGE?” is a masterful portrait of Pope Francis for The New Yorker by one of my favorite authors, columnist James Carroll of the Boston Globe. There is very little that Carroll has written that I would not recommend. His profile of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church is not an exception.

Unlike Carroll, a former Catholic priest, I do not have a high opinion of religion, any religion, especially Catholicism.

Pope Francis, however, has taken stances of which I can support, a man in many ways after my own heart.

Foremost is the name he took for his papacy, which in itself says a lot about the man who says, “I am called to put into practice what I ask of others.”

There is no better way of showing the way forward than leadership that leads by example.

Unlike his predecessors, Francis does not have a numeral added after his name. That’s because he is the first pope who has taken the name. The pope took the name to honor St. Francis of Assisi, who walked away from his family’s wealth and lifestyle, and instead bonded with the lepers, the poor and the destitute.

And how about this, Francis says that he would like to see “… a Church which is poor and for the poor.”

Now if that were to happen it would truly be something to behold.

Francis’ stance on homosexuality, the environment, the morality of capitalism, economic justice, and his support for the poor is exceptional. It will be quite a change for many traditional Catholics to accept.

I particularly like his answer to a journalist who asked about gay clergy. Francis response, “Who am I to judge other people in this context? Who am I to judge the way other people live? Who am I to be passing judgment?” This is an interesting papal response. As Carroll says, “You’re the Pope! If you can’t judge, who can?” In another context Francis said, “Things from the heart don’t have an explanation.” It’s an admission that he doesn’t have all the answers.

Regarding capitalism and the environment, an issue that is truly at the center of my heart, he says, “In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve.”

As a manager, one of my tasks was to implement change. It’s complex and difficult, and there are many challenges. One of the greater challenges is to overcome the human trait to resist change. That means the greatest challenge is changing attitudes and creating an understanding that change is a necessary evolutionary process, and one without end.

Pope Francis clearly understands these challenges. As Pope Francis said, “The first reform must be the attitude.

“ Many think that changes and reforms can take place in a short time. I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change. And this is the time of discernment. Sometimes discernment instead urges us to do precisely what you had at first thought you would do later.”

Carroll calls Francis a radical.

To be a radical is a good thing, because stagnancy and complacency will not change inequality or move the interest of the wealthy, the Church, religion, politics, or society in a direction it needs to go.

Pope Francis impresses me as a man who will walk the talk. Perhaps -- just perhaps -- his leadership will have sufficient impact to spur others to following him in his commitment to building a better world.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green




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