Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Archbishop Kurtz on the New Pope

Recently, Archbishop Kurtz spoke with Dr. Gregory Hillis, Assistant Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University, about Pope Francis.  His article about our conversation, reprinted with permission below, is in the Winter 2014 edition of Bellarmine’s Magazine:

When Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio emerged as Pope Francis onto the balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica without the papal mozzetta – the red cape traditionally worn by popes – and greeted the crowd with a simple, “Buona sera,” the tone changed in Rome and throughout the Roman Catholic Church. Over the months since his election, his gentle and pastoral personality has resonated with Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and his message of generous love for each person challenges and compels us all.
Archbishop Kurtz talking to Dr. Gregory Hillis.  Photo by Bill Luster, courtesy of Bellarmine University
Archbishop Kurtz talking to Dr. Gregory Hillis. Photo by Bill Luster, courtesy of Bellarmine University
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville and member of Bellarmine University’s Board of Trustees, met with Pope Francis in October 2013 alongside Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. I recently sat down with the archbishop to discuss the pope and his message, as well as reaction to the pope worldwide and particularly in the archdiocese. I began by asking him about his recent audience with Pope Francis.
Archbishop Kurtz describes Pope Francis as being “warm and engaging,” and the archbishop came away deeply impressed by his pastoral demeanor: “If I had to choose a parish based on the pastor, I think I’d go to (Pope Francis’) church.” They discussed a wide range of topics of serious import, but the archbishop drew attention as well to the lighthearted good humor of the pontiff. At the conclusion of the audience, Pope Francis offered to walk his guests to the door, to which Cardinal Dolan responded that it wasn’t necessary for him to do so. Francis jokingly replied, “No, I want to make sure you leave.” “There’s something very endearing about that, isn’t there?” the archbishop said.
Even more endearing has been the message and example of the new pope. Francis’ “primary word is mercy,” said the archbishop, and this emphasis on mercy comes from a deep awareness of his own shortcomings and imperfections. His humility is also the fruit of this awareness, and Archbishop Kurtz identified the pope’s genuine humility as being key to his widespread popularity: “It’s holy and it’s very beautiful. But it’s also very engaging … He seems to remind people of Jesus.”

Read entire article here...

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