What kind of man is he? Some impressions from an hour’s conversation last May:
A man of God. The new pope struck me then as someone who lived from the inside out: a man whose rich interior life was the basis of his public life; a leader whose decisions grew from prayer and discernment, not calculation.
A man of profound humility. I had long been interested in getting to know then-Cardinal Bergoglio, but I had the hardest time getting him to talk about his own life and experiences. I didn’t detect shyness in this, or false modesty, but a true evangelical humility. Pope Francis will not have the effervescence of a John Paul II; but like the Polish pope who created him cardinal, Jorge Bergoglio has spent his life saying, not “Look at me,” but rather, “Look to Jesus Christ.”...
A man of the New Evangelization. The new pope played a significant role in shaping the Latin American bishops’ 2007 “Aparecida Document,” which embraced the New Evangelization and put it at the center of the Church’s life. In our conversation, the man who would become pope made clear his understanding that a kept Church—“kept” in the sense of legal establishment, cultural habit, or both—had no future in the twenty-first-century West, given the acids of secularism. Pope Francis is a man, I conclude, who intends to go on evangelical offense: It will be all gospel, all proposal, all evangelism, all the time.The Aparecida Document is very, very interesting by the way. Here's an excerpt that jumped out at me, but the whole thing is fascinating:
The church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission and relaunch it with fidelity and boldness in the new circumstances of Latin America and the world. It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats, or those who seek to cloak the variety and complexity of situations with a mantle of worn-out ideological slogans, or irresponsible attacks. What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel rooted in our history, out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries. That depends not so much on grand programs and structures, but rather on new men and women who incarnate that tradition and newness, as disciples of Jesus Christ and missionaries of his Kingdom, protagonists of new life for a Latin America that seeks to be rediscovered with the light and power of the Spirit.
A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of the faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. Our greatest danger is
the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the church in which everything apparently continues normally, but in reality the faith is being consumed and falling into meanness.
We must all start again from Christ, recognizing that
being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.