It is astonishing that a man who has been Pope now for more than two years still remains such a deep mystery:
His word choice reveals that the man on the Chair of St. Peter has less experience with Western-style social economics and social encyclicals in the Catholic Church than he does with poor Latin American neighborhoods. When he was elected pope, Bergoglio was 76 years old — and had previously spent almost his entire life in Argentina. That might best explain why this pope is so different.
“Jorge, don’t change.” Bergoglio told his biographer Elisabetta Piqué that he had made this resolution right after his election in Rome. He has taken into consideration that there is a danger that he will repeat the “old mistakes” in his new position. But a man of his age makes himself look silly, he argued, if he tries to reinvent himself. In Rome, consequently, he now acts according to a model that harkens back to his time in Argentina: The Francis principle.
Bergoglio himself claims that even when he was a Jesuit Provincial Superior he made “decisions in very abrupt and personal ways.” Back then, at the age of 36, he had been named the highest-ranking Jesuit in the country. As Jesuit priest Carlos Carranza stated for the record, Bergoglio’s strict rules meant that despite his selfless mission, “he and his way of leading the province” encountered hostility.
It’s been documented that in 1986, in a time of “great inner crisis,” as Bergoglio describes it, he was transferred for disciplinary reasons to the city of Córdoba. The exact reasons have remained secret. Another witness of the period claimed that some Jesuit monks considered Bergoglio to be crazy. Even his mail and his phone were monitored.
His reputation for being pious, uncomfortable and inscrutable remained when he became the rector of a theological college and the archbishop of Buenos Aires. Argentinian Nobel Prize winner Pérez Esquivel publicly pleaded to the Holy Spirit that the “ambiguous” and politically hard-to-categorize Bergoglio should not become pope. Eight years later, it happened anyway.
Since then, Bergoglio has continued to follow his old principle: “Hagamos lio” — “create confusion” — and trusts that the processes that he puts into motion will spur positive changes. “He himself doesn’t know where they will lead, he trusts the Holy Ghost,” suspects Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi. For Francis, he claims, what counts is a “church in movement.”
Conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the top Vatican jurisdiction, has been witness to this movement firsthand. A week after Burke criticized his church as a “ship without a rudder” in an interview, Francis pushed him into a post with the Order of the Knights of St. John. When it became known shortly thereafter that the commander of the Swiss Guard was also being pushed out, Vatican insiders reacted with outrage: “This is worse than in the Islamic State,” one of them reportedly said.
The clean-up work in the Vatican is a long way from being finished — the fundamental reform of the Curia is still ongoing. A committee — which also includes German Cardinal Reinhard Max, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising — is considering suggestions. In Francis’ eyes, he and the other eight members share one main advantage: They are outsiders, they barely know the Curia and act as foreign invaders disturbing the court’s immune system.
Francis’ opinions about the Curia became clear on Dec. 22. A storm was unleashed in Clementine Hall, emptying itself over dozens of moiré-silk-clad skullcap-wearing cardinals, as well as the bishops cowering behind them. In any normal business, it would have been considered a vote of no-confidence against its leaders.
Not so in the Vatican, where Francis first complained about “spiritual petrification” and “existential schizophrenia” in the Curia — then made a smiling round and received loyal addresses of discipline. And this from all those who voted for him in the 2013 Conclave so that he may bring order to things with a strong hand.
In the meantime, the angry whispering in the church has grown. Even lower-ranking Curia colleagues complain of a lack of sensitivity — especially toward the low-earners in the Vatican who had their overtime hours cut, and this by a pope who sermonizes about charity. They must now survive on wages of around €1,000 ($1,094) a month.
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch suspects that at the heart of the confusion surrounding this Pontificate is the fact that there is no master plan. Like his interviews this is an ad hoc Papacy where the Pope acts on impulse, and the Vatican officials are left scrambling behind him.