Sunday, March 17, 2013

More on the 'Poverty of Pope Francis'

The Bishop as procurator pauperum.

I haven't taken the time to research or properly footnote quotes in my posts on the new Holy Father, I write mostly from my gut, my intuition - admittedly, I'm not a very good writer.  On the other hand, Terry Prest, the author of Idle Speculations does excellent research and documents accordingly.  Terry has performed a wonderful service, publishing documents which help us better understand what the Pope is talking about as regards the Church of the poor.  It seems to me his post helps document and demonstrate the direction the Holy Spirit has led the Church, during the last two pontificates into the new reign of Pope Francis.  Our Holy Father is saying and doing nothing new or out of character, but continues the work of his successors. 

Have confidence the Holy Spirit will bring to completion the good work he has begun.

From Idle Speculations:
In 2001 Pope Francis attended as deputy relator at the Synod of Bishops in Rome. The theme of the Synod was Episcopus minister Evangelii Iesu Christi propter spem mundi (The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Hope of the World)

Its proceedings were interrupted by September 11 and its aftermath. It therefore did not receive as much publicity as it should.

One major topic of debate was the role of poverty in the spirit and practice of Bishops.

One can trace the development of some of the debate at the Vatican website. 
As Assistant General Relator Pope Francis (then Archbishop of Buenos Aires) read out the Bishops` Report on the discussions. It would seem he who had a large part to play in drafting the Report.

The section on Poverty was largely re-drafted:
"Poor for the Kingdom
12. One of the characteristics most mentioned by the Synodal Fathers in relationship with the holiness of the Bishop is his poverty. Man of poor heart, is the image of the poor Christ, imitating the poor Christ, being poor with a profound vision. His simplicity and austerity of life confer total freedom in God.
The Holy Father invited us to examine "our attitude towards earthly goods and about the use of them... to verify to what point in the Church the personal and community conversion has achieved effective evangelical poverty... to be poor at the service of the Gospel"
With these last expressions, John Paul II reminds us that this means following the evangelical radicalism for whom blessed is who becomes poor for the Kingdom, following the sequela of Jesus-Poor, to live in communion with brothers according to the model of the apostolic vivendi forma, witnessed in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles."

Idle Speculations is one of the finest Catholic blogs online, many thanks Mr. Prest. 


  1. Thank you for the link to Idle Speculations... It is most excellent. Especially, the recent post on Pope Francis and poverty. If anyone seeks to understand him better, it is a good place to start.

  2. Popes though and Bishops have security from the ultimate poverty of old age that worries many laity in the real world. Cardinals and resigned Popes get 69K a year and medical coverage. Of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, I suspect that is wealth to the majority laity. What I like about Francis is that he lives below what he could access. He has a safety net always there but he does work daily at living below what he can access.
    Real poverty is not romantic as the many mothers of Somalia knew last year as they carried their dead babies away from the drought toward other countries. But Francis' attempts at poverty are inspiring even if the safety net is always there for him.

  3. There's alot of talk out there about "Il Poverello" and his call for a Church of the poor and what that will eventually come to mean. One thing I notice from the Pope's behavior over the past few days is a clear desire on his part for the Pope to be accessible, not only to the "great and the good" but to the man on the street as well. Perhaps reducing the distance between the shepherd and the least amongst his flock is a large part of what Francis has in mind. Certainly his example in Buenos Aires leads one to gather as much.

    Some seem to be concerned that the Pope's advocacy of ecclesiastical poverty will somehow amount to liturgical desolation. Some of the more hysterical commentaries I have read suggest that Francis is poised to repudiate Pope Benedict's liturgical reforms, outright, and that he will...I don't know, sell the papal sacristy on eBay or something. And yet such concerns are expressed without any provocation by Francis.

    Pope Francis has celebrated all of two public Masses since his election and in both cases he appeared in very expensive vestments (as did his concelebrants and his retinue). The vestments he wore during his first Mass at the Sistine Chapel were designed for Benedict XVI and worn by him. At St. Anna he wore the lovely miter that Pope Benedict wore during his final Mass at St. Peter's. In both cases the so-called "Benedictine arrangement" of the candles and altar cross was maintained. I have seen the vestments and the miter created for Francis' installation Mass on Tuesday and they are quite beautiful.

    Still, some want to fault His Holiness for not wearing the traditional papal costume at his first appearance on the loggia after his election. He dispensed with the mozzetta and the rochet. There is an interesting little detail about that, however, that has not been reported but which is nevertheless significant as far as all of that nonsense goes.

    Pictures of the Room of Tears reveal that the satin mozzetta (traditionally worn by a newly-elected pontiff at his first appearance) was not among the garments provided the new pope this time around. As it happens, only the ermine-trimmed velvet mozzetta was provided, almost as if somebody wasn't prepared to give the new pope a choice in the matter. I can see, therefore, why Francis opted not to wear the mozzetta at all, in that case. Ermine would not exactly have cooperated with the image he wishes to project to the world.

    At his first public audience, Pope Francis appeared in black pants, socks, and shoes under his white papal cassock. Horror. But why so horrible? I'm sure at moments that matter, such as his installation, the Easter Vigil, Christmas Midnight Mass, and other occasions wherein the faithful expect the Pope to look the part, Francis will look the part. I'm sure due care will be taken to safeguard the dignity of papal liturgies, ad majorem Dei gloriam.

    But if the Pope should opt to appear a bit ordinary at more ordinary functions, we shouldn't begrudge him a desire to look a little less regal and to seem a little more approachable to people like you and me. Closing the distance between the shepherd and his flock, for him, I think, means little things like that. Maybe it means not wearing alot of extra-liturgical finery that, to many, seems...comical in this day and age...and which, to the poorest amongst us, may actually make for a rather painful sight. Imagine being an impoverished Catholic on the street watching the Pope, or the cardinal, or the bishop pass by, realizing that the cost of just one of those expensive garments he's wearing would pay for your child's surgery or put food on your family's table for a year.

    It seems to me that Papa Bergoglio is acutely aware of the needs of the poor, having lived among them, and of the need for the Church to strip herself of anything that UNNECESSARILY keeps the Church at a distance from the people, or worse yet, disgusts them by the ostentation of her shepherds.

  4. Many thanks for the kind words
    God bless

  5. James M,
    Very good. And in other moments in the future, he may also be striving to protect his vow of poverty which recent Popes in history did not have. Since there a lot of converts on the web, they may not realize this. The Cistercians and the Carmelites each have two observances or communities based on severity of interpretation...the Trappists are OCSO...Order of Cistercians Strict Observance. The strict Carmelites are the Discalced Carmelites. You might say Francis is a mini strict Jesuit compared to other Jesuits. So when he avoids using a Mercedes in the future, his vow can also be a factor. He is not a revolutionary as you point out. He is slated to take the helicopter ride to Castel Gandolfo this Friday and a revolutionary on fiscal matters would not though I think he'll be sad if anyone tells him the fuel bill for the helicopter compared to a car drive.

  6. Another take on the 'poverty of Pope Francis':

  7. Amy Welborn added an alternative take earlier today as well:


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