George Weigel characterizes Pope Francis a “revolutionary,” but insists that he is not a revolutionary in the ways most observers have suggested.
Weigel writes, “The pope is passionately concerned about the poor, and he knows that poverty in the 21st century takes many forms. It can be found in the grinding material poverty of his native Buenos Aires, caused by decades of corruption, indifference, and the church’s failures to catechize Argentina’s economic and political leaders. But poverty can also be found in the soul-withering spiritual desert of those who measure their humanity by what they have rather than who they are, and who judge others by the same materialist yardstick. Then there is the ethical impoverishment of moral relativism, which dumbs down human aspiration, impedes common work for the common good in society, and inevitably leads to social fragmentation and personal unhappiness.”
Francis is not anti-business. Weigel says, “he knows that ‘business is a vocation and a noble vocation,’ if ordered to the common good and the empowerment of the poor. When he criticizes the social, economic or political status quo, he does so as a pastor who is ‘interested only in helping all those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking that is more humane, noble, and fruitful.’”
The revolution he advances is not economic or political, but “a revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church: a re-energizing return to the pentecostal fervor and evangelical passion from which the church was born two millennia ago, and a summons to mission that accelerates the great historical transition from institutional-maintenance Catholicism to the Church of the New Evangelization.”
Weigel, in short, thinks that the current Pope is committed to much the same agenda as Weigel himself. Francis is an evangelical Catholic, deeply converted, deeply committed to evangelizing and pastoring the late modern world.