Tag Archives: Vatican

First Day at the Office

I wonder how Pope Francis is spending his first day in his new office?

Will he have tax forms to complete, a National Police Check  to be submitted, authorisation for his bank to be filed?  I wonder if he will call home and check that all is well or get a text from a friend and a Facebook message from a younger niece or a tweet from his peeps in Argentina?

He won’t need a seniors card or a bus pass or a disability car park or show his union credentials to anyone. He won’t pop his lunch in the fridge or have to turn off the urn if it over flows, or keep an eye out for the courier. He won’t need to find someone to show him where the toilets are, or where the stationery cupboard is or to check that his payslip is correct.  He probably won’t need to learn how to access his email off-line while out of the office or need a new email address or learn another password to access the server.

In these days of 140 characters to communicate a clear message, I am truly impressed with the genius of this Argentinian who with just 7 characters has firmly, clearly and loaded with meaning, told the world, who he is and what he is all about: Francis.

What a statement and a powerful way to brand himself on his first day on the job. What fun it would be if we could all take a name when we take on a new job – what would yours be?  As he was leaving the Cardinals after a festive supper, and after thanking them,  he said “may God forgive you [for what you have done]”. I rather like this touch of connecting the collective to the individual and the underwriting of what has been a process of discernment and selection.  He is a man of science with a chemistry degree and also a MBA so he must know something about business as well. Anyone who survived the wicked years of the Pinochet years and with all that Jesuit training he obviously knows about governing and how to talk and think his way through problems too. I think Hildegard would be happy with the choice. She could share potions, politics and prayer with him and I bet she is sending some of her wisdom his way.

I am hoping, in Francis’s first few days in the his new job, that he will tap into the wise ones like Hildegard and Francis and remember that they are accessible to him as he gets to work.  I am hoping he will embrace the prophetic way and recognise himself as a shoot flooded in light.  As I too have new days in new offices I am embracing the image of the prophet and if I could choose a name to inspire me and to send a clear message it would be Hildegard.

“Who are the prophets? They are a royal people, who penetrate mystery and see with the spirit’s eyes.

In illuminating darkness they speak out.

They are living, penetrating clarity.

They are a blossom blooming only on the shoot that is rooted in the flood of light.” Hildegard

Pope Francis

Vacancy at the Vatican

Dear Hildegard,

A+lightning+strikes+St+Peter's+dome+at+the+Vatican+on+February+11I am sure you would have something to say about B16 resigning. You certainly weren’t shy about coming forward with you advice to the Bishop of Rome in your day.  I am pretty confident you would be pleased that B16 had enough presence of mind to call it a day and make way for the next generation; I also think you would be willing to concede that if he didn’t feel up to the job anymore he was entitled to a rest; and maybe you might have thought your prayers were being answered.

Now there is a vacancy at the Vatican and the job description is well known. The signs of the times are less clear, for many it is the Dark Ages. The sex scandals and conservatism of Rome have left many of the faithful finding their homes outside of the Roman church. The divisions may not be able to be healed in this generation or the next.  Listening and watching to the social media is both entertaining and disturbing in equal measure. This is a time of great vulnerability and in a way B16 has modelled what it means to be vulnerable by saying “I’m not up to the job” and courageous stepping down. The mark of this papacy will be this resignation – B16 has set a precedent and in doing so is able to make the path easier for the next person – and that is the mark of a leader.  I can’t believe I am saying that as I have been no fan of the person I generally refer to as “the German Shepherd” – but I do feel the need to give credit where credit is due.  The cynic in me says he resignation must be for political reasons and the coverups of pedophilia may just be waiting in the wings and B16 might have been held to account like any CEO for the sinfulness of his brother priests.  We will wait and see on that front.  I hope I am wrong.

What does this act tells us about what it means to vacate something that you love?  I can only imagine that B16 made this decision as a result of his own prayer and discernment, and made it in consolation. I wonder who his spiritual director is and what piece of scripture he mediated on to come to this decision?  Having been someone who has just left a job they loved and not able to retreat into retirement to write and research as B16 will do; I am intrigued about the process he would have employed to get to this historic decision.  The relationship between this personal act and the political consequences also fascinate me. As a feminist I hold the belief that the personal is political and when I filter B16’s actions with this principle I come to a few conclusions:

– resigning is one way of leaving a job and sending a message to your peers and community

– saying enough is enough is an act of vulnerability and courage

– when you take the action to withdraw your labour it may be the only action you can take as all other avenues have been exhausted

There is a part of me that wonders if the corruption and puppetry that even B16 was subjected to, meant he could no longer hold his own integrity in place …. could that be possible?

Whatever the reasons, it is truly between himself and his God.  Having resigned from a job not so long ago I know that the reasons are often complex and multi-layered and sometimes you just have to get home.  Dorothy was able to click her heels to get back to Kansas – but if you’re the Pope resignation is preferable to going out boots first.