I’m rather disappointed with the new Pope, Francis. The initial stories seemed encouraging; he did a foot-washing ceremony for women in prison one of whom was Muslim. That’s great seeing as it was always done traditionally with for Christian men. Then there was the fact that he paid his hotel bill after selection as Pope, which is something the Vatican would usually take care of. He was also careful in several instances to call himself Bishop of Rome rather than Pope. The significance in this is humility and also possibly an attempt to appeal to the Eastern Orthodox Church which (along with many Protestants) takes issue with the Papacy and the fact that it has grown so far beyond a simple bishopric.
At the time the new Pope was introduced I was happy with these details but also wondered if these tantalizing bits of progress weren’t possibly just for show while all eyes were on him. I felt I was probably being too cynical and decided to wait and see. Since then I’ve read that the Vatican has restated it’s chiding of that nuns group- you remember? A group of American nuns were called to visit the Vatican then ambushed with accusations that they were too focused on poverty and hunger and ignored such important issues as gay marriage and combatting abortion. This was all during the leadership of the last pope. Well apparently Pope Francis agrees.
Then recently he went ahead and excommunicated a priest in Brazil who spoke regarding homosexuality and open marriage and the possibility that these might be ok. Excommunication is something of a harsh punishment and seems overblown in this case. And it’s striking that other sins priests have committed (child abuse?) do not have excommunication as punishment and in fact are usually “punished” with a look the other way.
Of course I dunno why I’m surprised. The Catholic Church has never been about conversation between members and leadership. The hierarchy is just too tight. I guess I was hoping Pope Francis was ready to relax a bit and listen. These incidents suggest perhaps not. Whatever, I guess I’ll keep waiting to see what happens.