“Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not,” reported the BBC July 29. “He was responding to questions about whether there was a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican. ‘If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, [the Pope said,] who am I to judge?’”
He also seems to have a real hatred of income inequality. “Not paying a just [wage], not providing work, focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at making personal profit,” he said on Radio Vatican May 1, 2013. “That goes against God!”
He has extended his eschewing of worldliness to his own living situation. “Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse,” reported Cindy Wooten of the National Catholic Reporter March 26, 2013.
And the head of the 1.2 billion-strong religion also used Radio Vatican on May 22, 2013, to announce that Jesus had enough salvation for atheists, too. “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics,” he said. “Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!” (The Rev. Thomas Rosica later took it upon himself to officially retract this statement.)
Pope Francis came to power after Pope Benedict XVI (née Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) suddenly ended his eight-year reign by tendering his resignation, in Latin, Feb. 11, 2013. The surprise announcement left many wondering what was next. “The uncertainty is deepened because there is just one precedent for a voluntary resignation by a pope — Celestine V, more than 700 years ago,” reported Steve Doughty and Hannah Roberts of the Daily Mail Feb. 13, 2013.
During the 872 years before Celestine V spent five months of 1296 as pope, four other Celestines before him held the same position. After the fifth Celestine’s resignation, though, there hasn’t been a single one since.
I don’t see any more Benedicts coming, either, at least for the foreseeable future. Francis, though? That name might have some legs.
Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.