‘Never grow weary of being merciful.” That’s what THE FUTURE Pope Francis said, over the years, to the priests of Buenos Aires. He’s taken his own advice. When he was Argentine bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio — “Padre Jorge” to all — the future pope was renowned for celebrating masses for the cartoneros, the local poor who SUBSIST BY PICKING recyclables from the trash of the rich. He held masses in the Plaza Constitución for the city’s prostitutes. He visited AIDS patients. On his watch, many more priests were sent to live and preach in the villas miserias (shanty towns). Indeed, Padre Jorge chose the name Francis because the saint of Assisi was a man of peace and poverty.
He’s no liberation theologian, though. And he’s just endorsed the censure (begun by Pope Benedict XVI) of the leftist group of US nuns known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Then again, he sure can sound like a lefty: “We are tired of systems that produce poor people so that then the Church can support them.”