I have so far expressed no opinion on the new Pope Francis I, having in the first place no opinion to express and in the second preferring to leave comments to those who know about these things. But it did occur to me that instead of taking the name Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio might more appropriately have called himself Pope Vatican II - or Vatican III, to maintain the sequence. He is the complete Vatican II man, the apotheosis of Vatican II, and in him "the spirit of Vatican II" will enjoy its swansong. After him, those clergy whose lives were changed by that ill-advised council will be too old to be Pope, or anything else. In his reign all the failed Vatican II pieties about opening windows and embracing the world will get a re-run. Just watch.

The big question, though, is whether in spite of this he will be able to bring charity to the forefront in an organisation not noted for that virtue in its official structures. The new Pope seems a good and compassionate man; will he manage to show that the Church is about love? Not airy-fairy talk of love, but real practical unconditional love, for all those who stumble on the way as we try to make the best of this life we didn't ask to be born into, with abilities in most cases inadequate to the task. Love for the weak, and that of course is all of us. If he can, he will have done everything a Pope need do.

Good Friday, 29 March 2013

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