After ticking off some of the wild headlines of the last few weeks,the AP notes:
Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up — and yet Francis is taking it in stride.
On Tuesday, the pope sat with a few dozen people at a Florence soup kitchen, tucking into a bowl of Tuscan ribollita bean soup as if there were no place he’d rather be. That may well have been the case, given the intrigue swirling back home and the trip he has planned in two weeks to Kenya, Uganda and the conflict-torn Central African Republic.
As if the domestic drama weren’t enough, even the trip now seems in doubt: French news reports say French soldiers working to keep the peace in the Central African Republic won’t be providing any extra protection for the pope, and the U.N. said this week it was in talks with the Vatican about the pope’s security amid a surge in violence that forced elections to be delayed and prompted Francis himself to recently say he still hopes he can go.
Despite the tumult, Francis has remained remarkably steady and determined, issuing an important mission statement this week outlining his vision of a church that shuns power, prestige and money in favor of solidarity with the poor and oppressed.
“He’s not even afraid because he knows what he is doing,” Francis’ close collaborator, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, said in an interview in New York. “He’s a man of prayer. He is a man of God. And so he’s never disappointed by this kind of thing.”
Massimo Faggioli, an Italian church historian joining the Villanova University’s theology department next year, said much of the headline-grabbing news of the past month can be chalked up to Francis’ radical agenda, the opposition it has found in some conservative circles of the church and the politicized nature of Italian journalism.