Pope Francis has turned many a head wondering what will he do next - he seems to be scratching the underbelly of the Gospels by his simplicity, humility, concern for the underprivileged, and his reverence for nature and the environment. Rabbi Abraham Heschel would be cheering him on for he wrote the following about religion more than 50 years ago:
"When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless."
Religion has often suffered from the tendency to become parochial, self-indulgent, self-seeking; as if the task were not to ennoble human nature but to enhance the power and beauty of its institutions or to enlarge the body of doctrines. The human side of religion, its creeds, rituals and instructions, is a way rather than a goal. The goal is "to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God." Pope Francis is living this goal.
Roger J. Vanden Busch