The other day, I was responding to a seminarian’s question about the nature of the power of the Papacy in the Church, and I quoted from Pope Francis’ Inaugural Mass homily where he made the point that the true nuclear reactor (my image) of any Petrine power is to be found in the Cross. We then unpacked that statement and its rich and varied meaning. The next day I read this quote from Francis Cardinal George, OMI, who, while still in Rome, offered a striking read of this “cruciform power”:
I am writing this from Rome, just a few days after the election of Pope Francis. There is and will continue to be much discussion about him and the Church. Often this discussion starts with statistics about how many U.S. Catholics disagree with Church teaching on sexual morality.
But I am in Rome. Two thousand years ago, children were killed here in their mother’s womb and newborn babies were abandoned on hillsides if their fathers didn’t want them. Homosexual relations caused little surprise. Divorce was rampant. There’s nothing new about sin.
Peter didn’t tell the Christians here that they should act in ways acceptable to the Emperor or to the general population. He had the keys given him by Christ; he, with all his weakness, was a rock. St. Peter was crucified outside the center of Rome by the authorities of his day, as Jesus, his only master, was crucified a few decades earlier outside Jerusalem.
Pope Francis is Peter’s successor. His faith will confirm ours, and it will be the faith of the apostles and of the saints of all the ages, the faith that conforms our minds and hearts to the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, who is the same “yesterday, today and forever.”
“Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth.”
― Blaise Pascal