A friend recently asked what I thought about Pope Francis’ social teaching.
While he apparently continues to speak unfiltered and without hesitation about many things that seem to be truly annoying the Establishment both inside and outside Vatican City…
I had a sense that he must be doing something right to annoy both Fox News commentators and Rush Limbaugh on the same day.
I’m not an expert on Roman Catholic social doctrine. That being said, I would have to say that what Francis is saying is not radically new or different from a number of his predecessors. Contemporary Catholic social teaching was pioneered by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 which called for just economic distribution worldwide and warned of the consequences of both capitalism and socialism. Such instruction was reiterated and expanded by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s. The actual roots of the message are traceable all the way back to Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo and the Bible.
What I think might be perceived as different is the frequency, frankness and charisma of Francis’ message. When the man speaks… people listen… and bluntly, the guy seems to talk a lot. He teaches with compassion. His appeal and popularity appear warm, genuine, sincere and confident. He talks without fear from his soul through his heart. Pastors like Pope Francis do that with ease. Theologians like Pope Benedict do that with difficulty.
I think “The Francis Effect” is the powerful strength
by gentle influence of his extraordinary spiritual leadership!
Some of us are listening.
Here’s what just a little bit of Googling produced: