Who listens to Pope Francis anyway ?
Shocking as the title is, I think it’s true. Who listens to Pope Francis? A few of us may listen to him occasionally. Yesterday I did. Being Ash Wednesday, I tuned in to listen to what my Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff of a billon strong group of people had to say at the start of Lent. I was blown away by what Pope Francis had to say.
Pope Francis offered Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica with about 50 cardinals and a congregation of around 100 people. It has been the Pope’s tradition to say the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome’s Aventine Hill followed by a short procession from the nearby St. Anselm Church. However, this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Mass was offered at the Vatican.
But coming back to my point. How many Catholics actually heard or read what he said? I would peg that number to single digits in terms of percentages worldwide. Yet ask any shareholder of a multinational corporation what the chairman of the board said at the general body meeting a few hours ago. Ask the members of a residential society if they payed attention to what was discussed by the board for the welfare of the residents in the society. Ask the parents of children what direction the schools administration has decided to take in this pandemic year. Ask people if they have poured over every corner of the newspaper this morning. Ask them and they will all say and an emphatic yes; they have heard and read. Now ask yourself, have I as a Catholic heard what my spiritual leader had to say at the start of the holiest season in the Churches calendar?
Ironically what Pope Francis has said is nothing new. Perhaps if he had said something that tickled the ears of the secular press, we would have had the whole world sitting up. He said nothing new but then again God says nothing new in the Bible too. The Popes core message contained the same theme that he has said in years gone by over and over again because what he was doing was mirroring the concern of God for us all through the ages. Pope Francis wants us to address the elephant in the room; sin! It exists but everyone wants to pretend it does not and since the topic of sin is not breaking news, even though it breaks, us no one cares to listen.