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Syndic Literary Journal


By LeRoy Chatfield


In recent years I have written  a series of critical pieces decrying the luxurious pomp and ostentatious life style associated with the Catholic papacy – wearing medieval headdress once reserved for princes, clothing themselves with bejeweled vestments and robes lined with ermine, showing off their wealth with religious jewelry in the form of emerald encrusted crosses and rings, living and dining like heads of state in palatial residences built for royalty, and even more galling for me personally,  wearing leather soled slippers made with red satin, red silk, gold thread, and adorned with an embroidered cross garnished with rubies – shoes of St. Peter the fisherman, indeed!

What a mockery of the simple life and the Gospel preached by the Jesus of Nazareth!

Is it possible the newly elected Pope Francis –  77-year old Cardinal Bergoglio  from Argentina –   has been called to reform the mission of the papacy and to challenge its ruling High Priests to moderate their lavish life styles?   I believe so.

His very first act – selecting the papal name of Francis –  delivered a powerful message to all those assembled: his administration  would be about service to the poor and  he  held out the life of St. Francis of Assisi as one to which the Church in the 21st Century should aspire.

This decision was not made on the spur of the moment   three years earlier he had written:

“St. Francis brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.”  – On Heaven and Earth by Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio 2010

As old as he is, this new pope is going to ride the historical donkey of St. Francis to bring about Church reforms.

And like St. Francis, he would teach by example. Since his election, he has not moved into the Papal palace, he dresses simply, he takes his meals in common with others, he reaches out to people and speaks plainly about the need to serve the poor.

“Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry. We all have to think if we can become a little poorer, all of us have to do this. How can I become a little poorer in order to be more like Jesus, who was the poor Teacher?”

If you want to have a rich Church, then the Church ages, it has no life,” Francis said.







Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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