by Joan Chittister, OSB
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
Pat Howard, columnist and managing editor of the Erie Times-News, my hometown newspaper, brought his own experience of church-watching to this second papal election in eight years. His description of having been disappointed in the way the church has responded to the questions of the time in the last two papacies gave me a new way to understand what I have been hearing from so many people in so many places these last three weeks.
The importance of Howard’s opinion piece as a bellwether comment lies in the fact that Erie, Pa., is not a hotbed of dissent against anything. On the contrary: This is the kind of small city Americans call “a great place to raise a family.” There are churches in every neighborhood of every stripe in the Christian catalog. There are some longtime Jewish synagogues with their congregations deeply embedded in the life of the city. There is a growing Muslim social center and a strong core of new refugees. We are, that is, a mixed population, and we live together well. There is nothing either New Age or critically atheistic about the area’s social climate. On the contrary: This is a place that registers “average” on just about every social index. Obviously, then, opinion here can be thought to cover a great deal of ground.
So while reams are being written about what kind of man this new pope should be — scholar, saint, administrator, reformer, whatever — Howard puts his finger on what kind of people are waiting for this pope, whoever and whatever he is. He describes his own growing disillusion with the character of the church and his reasons for it in ways that are eerily reminiscent of similar conversations across the country and from one group to another.…
One thought on “REFLECTION: Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis?”
Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel in our hearts. Your books have uplifted me to the true love of the Lord, and I don’t feel alone in my beliefs I understand the message of Christ is not in the Church’s interpretation of many rules, but in the faith Jesus prepared for us. Thank you for a passionate, coherent message.