CNN Analyst describes the Pope's time in Brazil
On Wednesday, October 1, Assumption College hosted a talk with John L. Allen at the Hagan Campus Center.
“He has been referred to as quote ‘the most authoritative writer on Vatican affairs in the English language,’” said Michael Guilfoyle, executive director of communications.
The journalist other reporters look to for the insight story on how the Pope is going to direct the world’s largest church and also possibly the best source of information on the Vatican published in the United States.”
“It is true as you just heard Michael tell you that I am CNN’s Vatican Analyst,” said Allen. “But before anyone in this room gets terribly impressed by that there are a couple of things you ought to know. One is that in addition to being CNN’s Vatican analyst, I am also their only Vatican Analyst.”
Allen’s main focus was to educate the audience on who Pope Francis really is, compared to the image defined by the media.
“If you want the big bold banner headline truth about Pope Francis, the thing that we don’t often like to say out loud but it’s just a slap-you-in-the-face obvious truth about this Pope, here it is: Beneath that humble, simple exterior lies the mind of a brilliant Jesuit Politician. This Pope knows what he is doing all of the time. There are no accidents. There are no uncalculated moves,” said Allen.
Allen made a point to highlight Pope Francis’ agenda. He talked about the Pope’s decision to go to Brazil to visit the slums. He also visited the popular Marian Shrine, the most popular shrine in Latin America.
“What you have to know about this trip to Brazil is that it was taking place basically just one month after the entire nation of Brazil had erupted in these angry street protests,” said Allen. “Ordinary Brazilians were really, really angry at their government. They believed that the government was spending all kinds of money on these showy public events like the World up and the Olympics while they were allowing schools and hospitals and so forth to languish.”
Allen described how the Pope visited during a difficult time for Brazil.
“We pulled around behind the church in this area that was supposed to be a secure zone,” he said. “But somehow there was this group of Latin American nuns that wormed their way into this space. The door to the Popemobile pops open, Francis steps out; these nuns start shrieking like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, they rush him, they’re wrapping him, showering him with kisses, and he’s standing there taking selfies.”
Allen was confused about the sight. Why didn’t any of the Brazilian military men stop this mob scene? He then found out the military men didn’t want to look bad and risk being seen as “that guy” on YouTube beating up the elderly nun.
“The Lord never tires the forgiving,” Allen quoted the Pope. “Fundamentally this is a message about mercy.”
“I believe this Pope wants to achieve a Copernican revolution in perceptions,” said Allen. “What he wants is that when people look at the simples [SIC] of authority in the Catholic Church, when they look at the Roman collars that priest [SIC] wear, he wants them to think automatically not in terms of power and privilege, but rather in terms of service.”
Allen reinforces that not only does Pope Francis believe in his vision, but he is determined to make it happen.
“What the church does not need is leaders with the psychology of a prince,” said Allen. “Instead what we want are shepherds who carry the smell of their sheep because they are close to the ordinary people they are called to serve. That is his vision statement,” said Allen.
Allen continued on about how Pope Francis has embodied what he preaches through missionary work.
“When you see Pope Francis doing things like stopping the Popemobile in Saint Peter’s square and getting off of it and walking across the square because he caught out of the corner of his eye a guy by the name of Vinicio Riva, an Italian man who has a skin disease, who is horribly disfigured by boils… the Pope makes a point to walk over to him to embrace him and kiss him” he said. “That’s mission in action.”
Allen also talked about the fundamental importance of missionary work. He stated that it does not have to be something extraordinary—it is simple.
“I think sometimes in America we tend to forget this. I mean at the perish [SIC] level we’ll have these vision sessions, we’ll sit around and we’ll talk about what is being a missionary church mean and we’ll think that means we have to launch a some new program. We have to open a soup kitchen or create a new movement. Truth is, you want to do a mission, walk outside that door and find someone you will not have a problem finding,” said Allen. “Find someone out there who is broken or bruised or hurting and who needs your attention. That in the first place is what mission means.”
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