His morning sermons are often extemporised, accompanied by shrugs worthy of a harassed maître d’ and “huh?” noises that the Vatican press office has given up trying to render into English.
All very sweet – but what do we really know about Francis’s views? Well, he’s not a traditionalist like his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Indeed, he’s positively anti-traditionalist, not aggressively so, but in an I-can’t-be-doing-with-all-that-fussy-nonsense kind of way.
Consider, for example, what he said to a group of Latin American members of religious orders who sat with him in a circle the other day, none of the nuns wearing religious dress (Benedict would have been horrified).
Apparently, Francis recalled that one traditionalist group had presented him with a spiritual bouquet of 3,525 rosaries that they’d prayed for him. “Why didn’t they say ‘we pray for you’… but this thing of counting.”
Now, it’s true that the devotional practice of counting rosaries is very old-fashioned – but they were said with love, and it’s just rude, Your Holiness, to diss the old ladies who counted them.
Editor’s note: Much like presenting someone with “a dozen roses” – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with presenting someone with an enumerated spiritual bouquet – no matter what particular practices the 2nd Vatican Council may or may not have intended to suppress.
The “Bishop of Rome” was almost certainly out of line on this one!
We should also count ourselves fortunate that the Vatican has no nuclear weapons!