In order to understand we try to place persons on the map by locating the coordinates of geo-location, intellectual interests, published statements, behavior, friendships, and religious devotion. In some circles your going to see people wanting to know about a person’s marriage status, financial assets, and how they have concern for others. It is true that the use of liberal and conservative labels are misleading and are generally meaningless outside the secular political context. With the March election of the new bishop of Rome, the Roman Pontiff, Francis, many of us crave to know more about the man who we follow. He is Christ’s representative; he is not a politician. Without exaggeration, the man who is Christ’s vicar points Catholics in a direction: to perfect communion with the Triune God. 

John Allen’s article likely gives the best precís of Jorge Bergoglio as an archbishop of Buenos
Aires. The past helps to indicate the future. But we believe in surprises. People change; the priorities of the work changes; life is different.

I look forward to the forthcoming biographies of Francis to see if they analyze the facts similarly. Now, as Pope Francis, he appears to be orthodox in theology with a genuine concern of those who live on the margins. He is not terribly different on this plane from John Paul and Benedict. The critics thus far of Francis’ papacy ought to remember that Pope Pius IX in the 19th century was considered a “liberal and a reformer.” We have to temper the temptation to be negative, judgmental, prone to anxiety and dismissive. The Law of Charity ought to be lived and applied.