By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Time for Honesty (Updated Post-Conclave)

The less "baroque" brand new papacy of Francis is wonderfully refreshing (I borrow the adjective "baroque" from the writer cited below). I confess that I never could relate to the previous pope's apparent emphasis on vestments. It struck me as excessive. Having said that, I have always and still do regard Benedict XVI as a great and incisive thinker and teacher. But I never liked that particular emphasis. Take the time to read this short article by Michael Winters on this topic, an article which is, in retrospect, the most prescient of all the articles I read about the conclave and a future pope (you need to scroll down once you get to the link).

I prefer the simplicity of Francis. As Winters said, simplicity can be dignified and impressive in itself. In fact, my personal view is that simplicity is much more dignified and impressive than the baroque. Auctoritas, gravitas, and majestas are old Latin terms with easy English equivalents: authority, gravity, majesty. Simplicity in dress, in liturgy, in protocol, and in personal routine increase each of those great traits. There is also a certain virilitas in simplicity. And we need more of that in the Catholic priesthood here at home and apparently also in Vatican City.

I have already seen the positive impact of this new simplicity on my Protestant brothers and sisters. Francis is telling us what St. Francis of Assisi taught long ago: evangelization is how we act and what we do--for that is what most wise people find most convincing and persuasive in a world where words and display are cheap commodities that often signify either nothing or even their exact opposites.

(El Greco image below of St. Francis of Assisi is in public domain.)