“Maybe God is telling us that the kind of tepid Christianity we find in the northern hemisphere is no longer vigorous enough to face the challenges the Church is faced with,” and so God gave us an Argentinian pope, says the Archbishop of Philadelphia and, we’re proud to say, frequent First Things contributor Charles Chaput, speaking to Vatican Insider.
Maybe mediocrity in our faith isn’t worthy of God’s son or of our own destiny as baptized Christians. The Church in Latin America is alive, and the United States itself is becoming more Latino by the year. It’s a good time for the universal Church to acknowledge that new reality, and an Argentine Pope embodies it.
In reflecting on the pope’s choice of the name Francis, he said “I’m a Capuchin Franciscan myself, and I think many people have a mistaken image of Francis of Assisi in their heads as a kind of flower child or 13th century hippie.”
The real man wasn’t anything like that. He was certainly “counter-cultural” — but only in his radical poverty; his radical obedience to the Church; and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully, including all of its uncomfortable demands. That’s the kind of purity that leads to a genuine rebuilding of Church life. One other thing: The most important quality about St. Francis was his commitment to “fraternity,” being a brother. Pope Francis is already showing that in relation to the cardinals — riding the bus with them is just one small example — and asking the people to pray for him.
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