It’s pretty simple–I will just have to get used to the fact that, as attractive and engaging as he is in many ways, Pope Francis is not John Paul II or Benedict XVI. He is obviously not cut out to be the philosophical intellect or to man the barricades of challenge, confrontation, and resistance against state tyranny. I wish he was, and for example had been more confrontational with the Castros in Cuba, but he is a different leader for a different need that his flock currently has, and that’s OK. And, although I have my concerns about some of the “over his head” comments about capitalism, the environment, colonialism, and immigration, some of which are consistent with those of the new “sustainability” movement, I can pass much of this off as gaffes that are ill-informed while well-intentioned.
I agree with David Brooks that Francis’ approach is personal, intimate, and situation-specific, not about the application of abstract rules, which he believes is the right balance of rigor and compassion. And on balance, I liked his speech to Congress, which was delivered without too much pointedly political rhetoric, and I particularly liked his choice to single out for a visit the Little Sisters of the Poor in lieu of lunch with members of Congress, which sent a good message.
I think we all learned something from his U. S. tour and he is a great listener so I hope he learned something about us as well. But overall the visit was positive if for no other reason that millions of people were mesmerized with his presence and the goodness of spirit that he represents. We need all of that we can get.