I’ve said all this before, but it’s getting to the point where I need to be able to reference it in other posts. So here it is all by itself.
The Ecclesiastical Juan Peron
Every so often, someone sends me something orthodox (or orthodox-ish) that Francis has said, and asks me what I make of it.
“But he said the bodily resurrection is real!”
“But he said the Mass isn’t a show!”
“But he said the Eucharist is really the living Jesus!”
“But he said there should be no active homosexuals in the seminary!”
These days, my response is to return to the wisdom of the aformentioned Henry Sire, from his pivotal book, The Dictator Pope:
The story is told that Perón, in his days of glory, once proposed to induct a nephew in the mysteries of politics. He first brought the young man with him when he received a deputation of communists; after hearing their views, he told them, “You’re quite right.” The next day he received a deputation of fascists and replied again to their arguments, “You’re quite right.” Then he asked his nephew what he thought and the young man said, “You’ve spoken with two groups with diametrically opposite opinions and you told them both that you agreed with them. This is completely unacceptable.” Perón replied, “You’re quite right too.” An anecdote like this is an illustration of why no-one can be expected to assess Pope Francis unless he understands the tradition of Argentinian politics, a phenomenon outside the rest of the world’s experience; the Church has been taken by surprise by Francis because it has not had the key to him: he is Juan Perón in ecclesiastical translation. Those who seek to interpret him otherwise are missing the only relevant criterion.
Never forget this when a man known for contradicting himself twice a day tells you something that you want to hear.