“We must undress ourselves today from a very serious danger that threatens each person in the Church: the danger of worldliness.” - Pope Francis in Assisi
I think John Allen of NCR makes an insightful observation on Pope Francis.
Francis had a sort of mystical experience upon his election to the papacy that's apparently freed him up to be far more spontaneous, candid and bold than at any previous point in his career.Allen refers to the Scalfari interview with Francis which seems to offer a "mystical subtext to the boldness and freewheeling style we've seen from Francis, which stands in stark contrast to the reputation he had in Argentina."
In the relevant portion of the interview, Scalfari asks Francis if he's ever had a mystical experience. Here is the response as presented by La Repubblica, concerning the moments immediately after he was elected to the papacy:
"My head was completely empty and I was seized by a great anxiety. To make it go way and relax I closed my eyes and made every thought disappear, even the thought of refusing to accept the position, as the liturgical procedure allows. I closed my eyes and I no longer had any anxiety or emotion."
That experience, Francis suggests, gave him the courage to accept the job and to forge ahead.
It's an important insight because it helps explain something that otherwise seems inexplicable: How to account for the transformation that's come over Jorge Mario Bergoglio since he became Pope Francis?
Consider that during his entire 15 years as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio gave a grand total of five interviews. In the seven months he's been pope, he's already done three, and they've all been humdingers.
Journalists who covered Bergoglio in Argentina report that he shunned the spotlight, and on those rare occasions when he did have to appear in public, he often came off as formal and, some would say, a bit boring. As pope, he's become a rock star. As archbishop and as president of the bishops' conference in Argentina, Bergoglio was careful and measured in his public declarations, while as pope he's letting it all hang out.
Back in April, I interviewed his sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, and even she told me that something was different about her brother since he took over the church's top job.
Recently, I spoke to one of the cardinals who elected Francis (not an American, by the way), who had been received by the pope in a private audience. The cardinal told me he had said point-blank to Francis, "You're not the same guy I knew in Argentina."
According to this cardinal, the pope's reply was more or less the following: "When I was elected, a great sense of inner peace and freedom came over me, and it's never left me." - NCR
I am convinced the Holy Spirit is guiding our Holy Father.