|Up close and personal...|
Yet, as Fr. Robert Barron notes in his latest commentary, it wasn't Pope Francis that the millions of young Catholics were reacting to. Just as they reacted to Bl. Pope John Paul and to Pope Benedict XVI in previous World Youth Days, they were responding to what Pope Francis represents; the papacy itself, the Holy See, the successor of St. Peter and the authority that the institution demands.
In fact, with all due respect, Fr. Barron says, nothing Pope Francis said was actually novel. Much of his message, just like the man, is seeped in the underlining theme of the Second Vatican Council, where the bishops called for the Church to turn outside itself and focus on its missionary purpose to proclaim the Gospel and reach out to the poor, marginalized, weak and afflicted; something it has always done but needs to be reminded of and reemphasized from time to time (two thousand years is a long time!).
|Showing God's love...|
Furthermore, Francis proved his own courage and willingness to go out of his own comfort level to show God's love to the most needy by visiting the poorest and highest crime ravaged neighborhoods in Rio, despite concerns over his safety. It is something that has already marked his short tenure as the Bishop of Rome, where he has continuously broken protocol to be closer to the faithful, kissing and blessing kids, elderly and handicapped and riding in a more open pope mobile.
In reality, as Fr. Barron's indicates, this has been the ever-ending mission of the Church since Christ commanded His Apostles to make disciples of all nations.
Therefore, despite the media frenzy prompted by a reporter's question about homosexual priests, who are living a celibate life in the Church, and answering, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?," the true heart of Pope Francis' message in Rio is that we are all accountable for one another and, as such, need to get outside ourselves to bring the joy of Christ to the world with love, dignity and compassion...