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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Rapist, a Murderer, and a Thief

Habemus Papam! Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I have always been interested in the person who, as the Bishop of Rome, leads the vast number of Roman Catholics and fellow Christians. In my lifetime there have been three following in the footsteps of St. Peter who have particularly impressed me with what I, lowly as I am, perceive as 'holiness': John XXIII, John Paul I, and now Francis I.

On Maundy Thursday it is traditional in many churches to re-enact Christ washing the feet of his disciples just before the last supper. It is customary for the Pope to participate in this re-enactment also, usually washing the feet of selected clergymen. But this year our newly elected Pope went to a prison and washed the feet of a rapist, a murderer and a thief.  For me, the implications of this are very powerful and imply that this man is breaking away from the inculcating protection of the wealth-bound glory of an enthroned papal head. (In addition, it should be noted that he also washed the feet of a Serbian Muslim woman inmate.)

Pope Francis 'gets it'! Christ is to be found among the poor, the wretched, the people who believe and those who do not;  not in the edifices and trappings made and built to glorify him. We, his community, bring Christ to these places, we do not find him there otherwise. Places are spiritually powerful because of those who come -- and have come before us.We find Christ in our humanity toward and for each other -- whether we are rich or poor, white, black, English, Chinese, Korean, German, French, saint or sinner...

I am writing about this in response to the Good Friday service I attended this year. The Vicar made a special reference to the Pope's actions on Maundy Thursday and made the point that the sign of a successful church is in its 'diversity'. Society is now multi cultural. This may well take us out of our comfort zone. We may long for past days when life may have seemed simpler. It doesn't really matter because this cultural diversity is here to stay and it is the lifeblood of the church.

It seems to me that the history of Christianity has been one of struggle: A struggle through persecution and  intolerance. As often happens in  history, the persecuted became the persecutor, those who were not tolerated, became the intolerant. We do indeed "see through a glass darkly".

24 comments:

  1. Francis is going to be a special Pope.

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  2. I'm a fallen-away Catholic but i wish Francis well. He has major obstacles to overcome if he is to preserve what is good about the Church while stripping away the problems that have caused so much heartache over the centuries.

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    1. For sure there is a lot of work that needs to be done. No doubt that much of the dogma has broken many lives -- and needlessly.

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  3. How can he change so much in so little time? It will be interesting to watch his good intentions.

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    1. One thing for sure is that so far, so interesting!

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  4. I think Francis is going to do good for the church. I too have followed his initial actions with a sense of hope.

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    1. I, too, have a sense of hope -- and I'm an Anglican!

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  5. I was raised a Catholic, but then I grew up and started thinking for myself. I have great respect for those who practice Christianity, but little for the institution of the church. I cannot tolerate the church's attitude toward women and cannot support a church that is more concerned with protecting its wealth and position that cleaning up its own house.

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    1. Lets hope that work that began with John XXIII can continue. We shall see...

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  6. I watched him today on the news blessing and holding a small psychical disabled child and it brought tears to my eyes. He is a special person.

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    1. He asked for our prayers when he began, and we need to keep him there.

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  7. Interesting thoughts. From you and your commenters.

    I guess my experience is so different from so many. We have women clergy; we have gay and lesbian clergy. We feel free to experiment with liturgy, making worship more understandable. So, in some ways, I cannot relate to what is being said.

    I think Pope Frances will be an interesting leader.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

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    1. I believe the Roman Catholic needs to make many changes in order to be relevant in today's world -- especially in its attitude toward women and sexual orientation. There are many in the church who know this is true and would change things if they could. Can one man change things? Christianity believes it is possible...

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  8. Well said, Broad. I think Pope Francis has made a very good start to his papacy, with his humility and simplicity. I like the fact he won't wear all the fancy accoutrements he predecessor thought necessary or live in the enormous and palatial papal residence. I will watch his pronouncements and actions with interest.

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    1. I feel as you do, Perpetua... It is certainly an unexpected choice. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Francis I met with Benedict VI!!

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  9. I just loved his first words to those gathered outside St Peters....Bueno Sera.....He ended his first pronouncement, with something that with my lack of Italian could only be translated as "sweet dreams" and then later on the following Sunday... something that translated as "enjoy your lunch".....I suspect he is driving the traditionalists crazy, wondering what he might to next. He has certainly made a powerful first impression. J

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  10. He seems to be a good fit for this age. We can only pray for him. It's up to him to do the hard work of changing the church.

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  11. I have not been active in the Catholic church for many years, after having been very active (I served as a lector, or reader, during mass, for a number of years, etc.) One of the main reasons for my leaving was that Boston's Archbishop, Sean O'Malley (who was in high consideration to become Pope, and I am very glad Francis was chosen, instead) refused to wash female parishioner's feet one Maundy Thursday, saying that Jesus only washed mens feet, so that would be his practice. Francis has had the greatest calling to me, to return to the church, since I left it.

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  12. Dear Broad, this is a powerful post. Deeply felt and beautifully written. Pope John XXIII seemed to me to be the epitome of the Gospels. And now Francis reaches out as Yeshua did to the imprisoned, the outcast, the destitute. To those who do not seem to fit the cookie-cutter view of who people should be. There is, I believe, new hope in the air! Peace.

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  13. the history of the Catholic church is so full of bad stuff it has to be from God or it never would have lasted! Pope Benedict went to that same prision on Holy Thursday to wash the inmates feet. it will be interesting to watch how the liberal press changes their view of beloved Pope Francis once he proclaims his respect for life from conception till natural death.

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  14. B
    Good blog entry
    Thoughtful and oh so right
    Ta muchly

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  15. I am not a Roman Catholic either, but before I say that this new pope will be special I want to observe what he does and what he says. In the past, he did not speak up against the military junta in Argentina and their military death squads. He did not take part in it but he stayed silent. In Germany many Christian leaders stayed silent too during WW2, but some did speak up against the Nazi. So, I’ll just watch and see as I like to see what people have done in the past to know more about them.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!