With a reformist pope, things are changing and already, the humbuggery about “family values” has given way to a real issue. Francis is focusing on poverty, which, like death and taxes, is a scourge that will always be with us. But when more people worldwide have cell phones than toilets – leaving 2.5 billion people without sanitation – and we who consider iPhones a vital bodily organ can only give a callous, “Eh, whaddaya gonna do?” – it’s a sign we’ve lost our moral compass. We should be ashamed, doubly so: of the terrible fact and of our resignation to it. By being complacent, we’re being complicit, and Pope Francis knows this.
Consider a recent kerfuffle over a statue of a homeless Jesus, which was rejected by the dioceses of New York and Toronto. The sculpture is of a hooded figure asleep on a park bench, his identity only revealed by the stigmata on his bare feet. Maybe the cardinals considered it too uncomfortable a reminder of their own languishing homeless – which I imagine was exactly the point. Francis should put that thing in St Peter’s Square.
Francis should be less preoccupied with ancient texts and more concerned with improving the present, especially for the world’s marginalized peoples. I want a pope who gets things done, when no one else can, for people no one else helps. I want Pope Batman. “Let us never forget that authentic power is service,” Francis said in his inaugural mass, urging action for “the poorest, the weakest, the least important”.