US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The humility of a blessing: Pope Francis on conscience

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint |

As we all continue to scrutinize Pope Francis' every move, article of clothing, and hotel bill for the kind of bishop of Rome he might be, let me call attention to the lovely blessing he offered to journalists gathered to cover the conclave, as covered in The New York Times. "Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God."

Not an iota of triumphalism in that blessing, nor an iota of waffling about the Catholic faith either. Here is a person who can be himself with others in a truly hospitable way. What I hope is that his respect for the consciences of individuals extends also to those in the Catholic Church whose consciences vary from his own. While he may not agree with them, I have a feeling, and I really hope, that he will be equally hospitable.

At any rate, his desire to make the church poor and for the poor is one that I think resonates with a great many Catholic consciences--and I imagine many non-Catholic consciences as well.