Pope Francis expresses clear, identifiably Christian messages, setting an example of self-effacement and humility while robbing critics of the charge of hypocrisy one might level at a pontiff more taken with the gilt trappings of Vatican privilege.
“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?”
The pope said renewal of the Church could not be put off and said the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy “also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion”.
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he wrote.
People are going to seek a way to connect to this Pope’s energy. Parish churches have to be ready to reflect that energy to newcomers if they have any hope of converting this Pope’s evangelical zeal into a new generation of Catholic converts. Inasmuch as economics represent the key metric of the age –condemnation of which underpins this latest document– you can expect to hear Francis frame his message in explicitly economic terms.