An analysis of the election of Pope Francis
Olivier Figueras interview with Father Claude Barthe on the website of the Journal Item:
- The election of the first pope named François is seen as a big change. Is it also your opinion?
- Basically, no. Unfortunately, no. I mean the context of this election is that a crisis without precedent in the history of the Church, the faith, the transmission of the faith, catechesis, a crisis that is growing. It is linked to a dismantling of the Roman liturgy that reflects and accentuates. It spreads further by secularization (and elimination) of the clergy and religious, and a stunning loss in all of the sense of sin, which basically trivializes the secularization from a moral perspective. We spoke once of non-practicing believers. But today, in France and in a number of Western countries, the practice (of the faith) becomes residual and, in addition, "practicing catholics" who are still far from being all believers. In the rest of the world, especially in countries where the number of priests is important even increasing, the rise of heterodoxy and the lack of theological training is more than scary. This tempest which shakes the Church within the ultra-modernity and of the aggressively secularized world reduced considerably the event of the pontifical election of March 13th, moreover important. But the massive reality remains unchanged: the boat is taking water from all sides, to quote the previous pope.
- Who is the pope François?
- He was born in 1936 in Argentina of an Italian immigrant family (he is 76 years old, that is to say within a few months of age when Pope John XXIII was elected). He joined the Jesuits, was provincial of his order in Argentina from 1973 to 1979. John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, coadjutor (with right of succession) in 1997. He became archbishop of the capital of Argentina in 1998, cardinal in 2001, and the real head of the Church in Argentina.
But I imagine that it is his ecclesiastical profile for which you ask me. Formally, he is a pure product of the Ignatian mold anyway Ignatian upper side of the mold. The new Pope is a man of strong personality, with a strong sense of authority. We have already compared his personality to that of Pius XI, but for my part, I would rather compare to Cardinal Benelli, which has long dominated the Curia of Paul VI.
He is a Jesuit very faithful to his duties, is an ascetic who rises at dawn, spends one hour a day of prayer. Having a great capacity for work, an amazing memory, a flexible intelligence, he has a remarkable capacity for direct control of what it means to govern (he has hardly ever had a private secretary). That said, it is more difficult to govern the universal Church, the Church in Argentina, especially at 76 years old, living since the age of 21 years with virtually one lung and is still really tired the last few years. As to redress the situation of the Church, who can do that today? Pope Francis leaves a diocese, that of Buenos Aires, afflicted with a serious crisis of vocations and undermined by secularism, like so many dioceses in lands that were once Christendom.
He is an intellectual, a cultivated man, and who eminently knows how to popularize: he tries hard to speak with a great simplicity; with the help even, in Argentina, using slang expressions. His repeated attacks against consumerism, against a diluted religion are very hearty. This also goes to say that he knows perfectly how to communicate, except that his abrupt nature can play tricks on him. It attaches great attention to appointments he made, as he proved in senior positions he held as Provincial of the Jesuits and as Primate of Argentina, to be the "doer" of the bishops of this country . Moral importance increased further after 2005, because he had quickly learned benefited during the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger, all the voices of "opposition" to the Dean of the Sacred College then . In Argentina, he was considered almost the Pope, who would have been if, in front of him, had not been elected the Prefect of the former Holy Office. One might as well say as as, except the intensity of his spiritual life, his personality differs greatly from that of the previous pope.
- is he a "progressive" ?
- No! Cardinal Bergoglio was not like the other Jesuit Cardinal of strong personality, Cardinal Martini, which was considered as papable until he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.As well as it was well necessary to understand that the pope Ratzinger was not a "traditionalist", but a man of " right centre " – excuse me these certainly inadequate use of terms but in order to save time– very attentive to different traditional claims which he appropriated partly, notably from liturgical point of view, it is well necessary to hear that the new pope is not a "progressive". To this we must take a detour through his political and social profile.