Sunday, 17 March 2013

"Don't forget the poor!"

"Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." So Pope Leo X, the erstwhile Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici, is said to have remarked upon his election. Sadly, it was during his pontificate (1513-21) that the Lutheran heresy erupted and he subsequently died aged 45 so it is hard to imagine it as being especially enjoyable. Indeed I have found myself during this last week wondering to what extent being a cardinal in a conclave might be described as "enjoyable" particularly for those who discover their names on the lists after the first ballot. 
Pretty scary, I imagine! 

The very thought of the awesome responsibility falling upon the shoulders of the man chosen to be pope just takes the breath away. Perhaps Leo X's  remark is, in that context, not so difficult to  empathise with.  Responsibilities of various kinds present themselves to nearly all of us at one time or another and,  feeling obliged to shoulder them, we perhaps encourage ourselves along the way by considering some more positive or pleasurable attendant consequence. One might encourage a friend facing a new and not wholly desired prospect with a "Look on the bright side..." remark. For example,"So you have to go on a course, next week- at least you get a few days off work". Or "You must be hanged in the morning...but you will get a good breakfast!" That kind of thing. What seems very different, and very strangely so, is the remark Cardinal Hummes is reported to have made to Pope Francis upon his election, "Don't forget the poor." 

It seems such a strange thing to have said to the man just elected Pope

Perhaps if one had a friend, somewhat inclined to avarice, and who had just won the Lottery, one might conceivably, solicitous for their spiritual well-being, tender such advice. "By all means enjoy your good fortune- but don't forget those less fortunate than yourself."

Actually, come to think of it, I don't think I would say that for fear of appearing to be looking for something for myself out of my friend's good fortune!

"Don't forget the poor!" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). It is such a very odd thing to say to the Pope and throws up some bizarre scenarios. Does election to the papacy carry some cash incentive that we laity just aren't told about? Are we to imagine Cardinals offering bribes? "I voted for you, mate, so don't forget poor moi!"

I don't for one moment imagine that bribes or money are involved but I am somewhat perplexed at some of the statements reported of our new holy father. Or is everything getting garbled in translation?

No comments:

Post a Comment