Truly loving the Pope PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 08:41



We have to be wary of our tendency to be easily taken in by some kind of media-orchestrated swooning over the Pope without the accompanying substance of truly loving him not only affectively but also effectively.

The Pope himself has warned us of what is called the ‘Pope Francis effect’ that tries to portray him as some kind of rock star or superhero to whom are attributed qualities and accomplishments that he himself said are not quite true.

One of them claims that he secretly slips out of his Vatican quarters at night to be with the vagrants and homeless of Rome. He said that while such act is very commendable, it actually has not crossed his mind to do so. Other similar claims are being made, but he disowns them.

He considers them as some kind of theatrical ‘special effects’ that some people, supposedly with good intentions, shower on him or on his name. They can be sparkling at the present moment, but they actually leave no lasting effect, much less some deep impression if not transformation in people. They are precisely just for effects, but without the real substance.

In fact, they detract from the true character and purpose of the papal office. They are there mainly to pander to people’s curiosity and lust for the extraordinary, and leave behind the elements of purity of intention and gratuitous magnanimity that would seek to do good things without expecting any earthly reward.

They tend to undermine and distort the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of whatever good deed is made, since they gloss over the requirements of humility and the spirit of sacrifice with which the good deed ought to be done. In the end, they tend to spoil people.

If we truly love the Pope, we have to see him as the ‘sweet Christ on earth,’ as St. Catherine of Siena once described any Pope. Irrespective of the Pope’s personal qualities, we have to see him as the successor of Peter to govern the Church, and to serve as the principle of unity of all Christian believers.

As the catechism would put it, the Pope is the “perpetual, visible source and foundation of the unity of the Church. He is the Vicar of Christ, the head of the College of bishops and pastor of the universal Church over which he has by divine institution full, supreme, immediate and universal power.”

If we truly love the Pope, we would pray for him, whoever he may be, and help him in any way we can to carry out his most delicate and demanding ministry. We would go beyond sentimentalism in our attitude toward him, though we should always be affectionate to him.

We should listen to him carefully, and make his concerns ours too, pursuing them according to our possibilities. In short, we should remember that our way to Christ always passes through the Pope. We have need to refer everything in our spiritual and ecclesial life to him.

St. Josemaria Escriva, who had a great love for the Pope, irrespective of who he was, popularized a slogan that deserves to be a guiding principle to all of us. “Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam!” (All with Peter to Jesus through Mary!) This is the proper attitude to develop.

Do we regularly follow the pronouncements and statements of the Holy Father? Do we spread them around? Do we consider the Pope when we make plans and projects, no matter how technical or temporal and mundane they may simply be? These are questions we have to ask ourselves always.Our usual problem is that we often ignore the Pope and the ecclesial dimension of our earthly businesses and activities. We often think that the Pope has nothing to do with them, or that our mundane affairs have nothing to do with our ecclesial life.

Worse, we can go to the extent of thinking that by referring things to the Pope and the ecclesial dimension, we would be undermining our freedom, our autonomy and our creativity.

This is a misconception, since referring things to the Pope and to the ecclesial dimension of our life can only bring these things to their ultimate spiritual and supernatural goals which they should all pursue. Otherwise, they would just be useless, dangerous and even harmful insofar as our ultimate goal in life is concerned.

There’s definitely a need to widen our perspective to include the Pope and our ecclesial life in all our affairs and concerns. This would truly be loving the Pope that goes beyond some sentimental “special effects.”