Catholics, and many other Christians with them, have been talking about the choice of Francis I as the new Catholic pope. Opinions will be all over the map in coming weeks. We should not be surprised at this chatter in the modern era. When the announcement was made I was in my local Catholic store among friends. One, a Latin American, was astounded and so profoundly and obviously pleased. Immediately the talk was about the name, Francis. I believe this choice sends a wonderful signal about the global nature of the church. I have not had time to form serious views on the man himself but my first impressions are very positive.
Before we forget we should be thankful for the humble actions of Pope Benedict XVI. I was asked to express my response to his resignation last week by a major ecumenical news source. They wanted me to comment about what he had done. By design this was to be a short, simple statement. Here is my profoundly simple appreciation for the former pope, now living out his days in private.
While the media discusses what they think about a pope resigning office ecumenical Christians should ask deeper questions rooted in faith, hope and love. I believe Pope Benedict XVI made a courageous decision that demonstrates deep humility. In this decision he has opened the door to deeper conversations about the unity of the whole church. The fuller implications of his decision will not be understood for decades. Historians will likely see this as a significant step into a new world shaped by global realities. Will the papacy be the same in 2050? I doubt it. I have no idea what this means but I do believe history was made by the decision of this humble man, a decision that showed us what serving Christ looks like in a time when true peacemaking and humility could not be more important.