Sometimes people just do things differently. Doing one thing when your predecessor did another doesn’t necessarily mean you’re thinking about him at all, much less indirectly criticizing him. Yet the “Francis is different than Benedict, therefore Francis is criticizing Benedict” line is one you find in many articles on the new pope.

Like this one, in an article on Slate by a disgruntled traditionalist: “Already some of the small breaks with liturgical tradition at the announcement of his election are being interpreted as a move toward the grand, unruly, and improvisational style of John Paul II; an implicit rebuke of Benedict.” Ignoring that backside-covering “are being interpreted” and “implicit,” why in the world should a matter of a person’s style be considered a rebuke at all?

Maybe, as seems true from what we’ve learned about him in the last two days, the new pope is more informal, or less interested in formality, than the previous one. The grand, unruly, and improvisational style may be his by nature, something he just does without thinking about it. That may be a good thing or a bad thing or a mixture, but it doesn’t mean he’s rebuking Benedict, even implicitly.

Not everything is political. Sometimes people are just people.

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