You have, of course, heard of the Pope’s interview, conducted b Antonio Spadaro, S.J. of La Civiltà Cattolica, on behalf of sixteen different Jesuit journals around the world. I read it in America magazine, A Big Heart Open to God. Several articles have already been written about it, such as James Martin, S.J., Listening to the Pope, James Thavis’ Interview Offers a 360-degree look at Pope Francis, and NCR, of course, has come out with several pieces, one of which by John L. Allen, Pope rejects church of ‘small-minded’ rules in Jesuit interview. You may have read all of them and more as well.
What I recommend, however, is to read the interview itself. I just did, and I shed tears. I underlined all those parts I liked and came to the conclusion that I could not inflict upon you those parts which moved me: There are too many of them.
As someone who has been following Ignatian spirituality for some twenty years, as a member of Christian Life Community in Puerto Rico, as a recent participant in the Ignatian Immersion Course in Manresa, I read the interview as an Ignatian apprentice discovering the thoughts and life of an Ignatian retreat master. So, while I am tickled to read some comments on the way the Church has been run in recent decades, what moves me most is Francis’ dedication to the Jesuit charisms of missionary spirit, community, and discipline, and discernment; and also his absolute faith in Godde’s love for each one of us:
“God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”
All those of us who feel sinners will recognize ourselves in the one now in the seat of Peter, because he declares himself a sinner. Women who have had abortion will sob with gratitude when they read his healing words. All those who have felt rejected by the hierarchy, whether divorced or gay, will feel greeted, welcome, and hugged by the man living in Casa Santa Marta.
Godde always surprises me: She answers my prayers, and gives me so much more than I had hoped for. This is the case with our new Pope. I prayed for another kind of Pope, and this one is so much better than what I had prayed for.
Now my feminist sisters, like me, will sift through those many pages to find the section on Women in the Life of the Church. I doubt it will satisfy many of us. What gives me hope are the final words of that section:
“The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.”
At some point in the interview, Francis makes a differentiation between optimism and hope:
“Christian hope is not a ghost and it does not deceive. It is a theological virtue and therefore, ultimately, a gift from God that cannot be reduced to optimism, which is only human. God does not mislead hope; God cannot deny himself. God is all promise.”
Thus, as a feminist Catholic woman, today I feel hope: I believe there will be dialogue between Francis, those around him, and our world of womanhood. Dialogue, I learned, means that both sides end up changed. I look forward to that day.
Finally, this interview will be a source of reflection, prayer, and discussion for the days to come with my Ignatian brothers and sisters, within my family, with my friends, and maybe even possibly within my parish.
This morning, I am a happy Catholic woman. Thank you Godde, thank you Jesus, thank you Spirit, thank you Francis ♥ ♥ ♥
Image: Pope Francis