more thoughts on Pope Francis

I thought the the following by Melinda Henneberger in the Washington Post captured well the initial impression conveyed by Pope Francis in comparison to his predecessors. The views come from Catholic scholar J. Bryan Hehir.

J. Bryan Hehir, the former head of Catholic Charities and of the Harvard Divinity School, arrived a smidge late Thursday to the Kennedy School class he teaches on the ethics of war, and tried to jump straight into his planned lecture on humanitarian military intervention. His students, however, had other ideas: “Can you talk about the pope, please?” one asked.

Hehir is one of the most interesting thinkers in the church, so of course he could: When the charismatic John Paul II first stepped out onto that loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square right after he was chosen to lead the church, he thought, “he overwhelmed the crowd.” When scholarly Benedict ventured out onto the balcony, “he taught the crowd,” and when humble Francis “stepped onto that platform, he related to the crowd.” What that shift will really mean, for and far beyond the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, no one knows.