Tonight’s ABC Compass program covered the early years of Pope Francis’ priesthood in the Jesuit order, his conservatism in rejecting Liberation theology post Vatican 23, and his dubious association with the military dictatorship of Argentina.
Two priests were kidnapped by the military and tortured for 3 months without any interest on his part, much less any attempt by him to secure their release; this as his biographer readily admits is a dark stain that he must account for at the end of the world, as catholics felicitously phrase their moral accounting process.
One sees the florid imagery with which he wraps himself today: Brother Sun, Sister Moon has nothing on it; he seems to reach out and empathise with the poor of the world. Tonight’s doco however showed the slums of Argentina and one excavation site of skeletons of the disappeared ones, about which he seemed, in his complacent conservatism, to have little interest, even though he was in a position of power and influence.
Does all of the above explain my scepticism when he came to power, following the plume of white smoke above Michelangelo’s frescos? I forget the pope who spoke with the original Francis; he was not allowed to renounce his wealth; this pope likewise, although he has given us a simplified version of the papacy, it is still grand. It reminds me of a recent vision of Cardinal Pell in tired salmon trimmed with gold, just the right balance of glory and ennui.