ROM | Att försöka förstå katolska kyrkan är inte det lättaste ens för personer som gjort det till sin livsuppgift.
Ibland påminner kyrkan om äldre målningar vars symbolspråk inte längre är helt lätt att tolka för den moderna människan.
Mer träffande är kanske en jämförelse med ritualerna i monarkier. Här är regalier, kläder och poser aldrig valda slumpmässigt. Idag skulle vi säga att allt kommunicerar.
Professor Candida Moss har skrivit en intressant artikel i Newsweek där hon försöker utröna varför kardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio valde just namnet Franciskus som påve.
Namnet förknippas kanske främst med helgonet Franciskus av Assisi och hans arbete bland fattiga och utslagna.
Men minst lika viktig signal är att namnet också indikerar ett ökat intresse för att evangelisera och sprida det kristna budskapet.
Papal names chart a course for the future by summoning up the past. The new pope assumes either the mantle of religious heroes and leaders from days gone by or the virtues of the Innocents and the Piuses. The selection of the name both forges a new identity and signals how the pope wishes to be seen and remembered. It is, in essence, not only the answer to the classic question “Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ but also a way of preemptively writing one’s own reviews.
St. Francis of Assisi himself is one of the more famous and beloved saints. The son of a medieval cloth merchant, he joined the military after the clichéd misspent and hedonistic adolescence of the type favored by wealthy young Italian men of the era. Having left the military after a period of imprisonment and sickness, Francis underwent a spiritual conversion. He had a famous vision in the Church of St. Damian in which Christ came to life three times on the cross and instructed Francis to repair his ruined church. The commission was, according to Benedict XVI, an instruction to rebuild a church undermined by “superficial faith.”
Francis of Assisi is known for his stigmata—the wounds on his body that mimicked the wounds suffered by Jesus during the crucifixion—but even more so for his humility and assistance to the sick and poor.
It is precisely to this history of care for the poor coupled with cultivated humility and deliberate evangelization that Pope Francis appeals. According to Vatican spokesman Thomas Rosica, Pope Francis selected his new name because he “had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised,” and “for those living on the fringes and facing injustice.” His episcopal motto while in Buenos Aires was “Lowly, but chosen.” Perhaps the selection of the name Francis says that though chosen, he remains lowly.
Saints have many sides, however. St. Francis is less renowned for his pioneering interfaith dialogue and bold efforts to evangelize, but given attrition in the Catholic churches in Europe and the pressing need for conversations with non-Christian political regimes, this aspect of his biography is at least as relevant as any other. Legend maintains that St. Francis traveled to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade in a brazen (and unsuccessful) attempt to convert the sultan.
The same interest in courageous witness to God is evident in some of Cardinal Bergoglio’s views. In 2001 he stated that the witness of the encounter with God was the critical element in communicating the central components of Christianity. Persuasion, he said, would never be able to achieve the same results. A real encounter with Catholicism and God is required. His opening speech as pontiff struck the same chord. He restated his belief in the need for Catholic evangelization, saying that he hoped the journey begun with his ascension to the papacy would be “fruitful for the evangelization of [Rome].” Such statements are very much in keeping with the New Evangelization movement of John Paul II, of which Pope Francis is a proven leader, and would place him in continuity with the mission of his two immediate predecessors. That both Benedict XVI and Francis selected the names of the founders of religious orders suggests that they both see the need for religious reform and renewal.
Läs mer: ”Social rättvisa bärande tema för Fraciskus” av Ulla Gudmundson, Sveriges ambassadör vid den Heliga Stolen (Kyrkans Tidning).
Bild: ©iStockphoto.com/Mark Strozier