Several weeks ago I gave a conference to our Third Order in New Bedford on St. Francis and his charism entitled “St. Francis through the Eyes of St. Bonaventure, through the Eyes of Pope Benedict, through the Eyes of Pope Francis.” It is largely based on three general audiences that Pope Benedict delivered in March of 2010 (3, 10, 17), about St. Bonaventure, his life, his influence on the Franciscan Order and his theology.
Pope Benedict is somewhat of an authority on St. Bonventure, having written a thesis on the Seraphic Doctor’s theology of history. Some have said that it is Pope Benedict’s understanding of this teaching of St. Bonaventure’s that is a key to his papacy. At least, I would contend that it is a key to what Pope Benedict called the ”hermeneutic of continuity.”
I believe this is all helpful to understanding where the Church is headed under Pope Francis and may help to explain the style and content of his comments, particularly in his interviews. In the following audio recording of my conference one will hear me make reference to the interview with Eugenio Scalfari, in which, according to Scalfari, the Holy Father stated that that the most the “most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” I suggested, with Zygmunt Bauman, writing in L’Osservatore Romano, that Pope Francis may be saying something more than is suggested in the all the commentary. Since I gave the conference the Scalfari interview has been removed from the Vatican website, presumably because Scalfari’s recollection of the Pope’s words leaves something to be desired. This is all worth keeping in mind.
In any case, even if the Holy Father said nothing like the quote above, I believe it remains true that his emphasis on the relational aspects of the new evangelization will continue to be key to his pontificate and its advisability will continue to be debated.
Of that debate, I will have more to say in the next few days. Here is the conference:
Update: Scalfari Confesses to having published his own invention under the title “interview.”