When a stunner is no longer so stunning

We’re already “getting used to” Francis and his distinctive priorities, so even the “stunner” of yesterday’s announcement of new cardinals is not very surprising to anyone, is it? After nearly two years of Francis, many would have been more shocked if he had named a slew of new cardinals to the traditional, powerful cardinalatial sees, right?

So it’s worth taking a step back and using this little event and our lack of surprise about it as a single fascinating indicator of where Francis has brought us and continues to lead us as a church.

I’m unashamed to admit I profoundly admire the leadership of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI – neither of them perfect, but both great in their own ways. Still, only a few short years ago, seeing this as the opening lines of an article by the top U.S. journalist on things Catholic would have seemed fantastical, like some dreamy passage from one of those “if only the church could be this way” novels by Joseph Girzone:

ROME — With his picks for new cardinals announced on Sunday, Pope Francis continued his campaign to reach out to the peripheries. The pontiff bypassed traditional centers of power and awarded red hats to such typically overlooked locales as Panama, Thailand, Cape Verde, New Zealand, and the Pacific island of Tonga.

For the second time, there were no new cardinals from the United States on the list announced by Francis. There were also no Americans in the first crop of cardinals named by Francis in February 2014.

(That’s from the article John Allen posted yesterday at Crux.)

God bless our Holy Father. And may God’s Holy Spirit make our hearts ever more receptive and malleable to the Christian witness he is offering all of us by word and example. May we all continue to be “stunned,” but more importantly, to be formed by it.


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