Bergoglio’s Gig 2: On speaking out of both sides of your mouth

On the one hand, “Pope Francis” Bergoglio is “reluctant to call himself pope”, preferring to be called the more “humble” title, “Bishop of Rome”:

He still goes by “Bergoglio” when speaking to friends, seems reluctant to call himself pope and has decided to live in the Vatican hotel rather than the grand papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace.

It might seem as if Pope Francis is in a bit of denial over his new job as leader of the world’s 1.2-billion Catholics. Or perhaps he’s simply changing the popular idea of what it means to be pope, keeping the no-frills style he cultivated as archbishop of Buenos Aires in ways that may have broad implications for the church.

The world has already seen how Francis has cast aside many trappings of the papacy, refusing to don the red velvet cape Benedict XVI wore for official occasions and keeping the simple, iron-plated pectoral cross he used as bishop and archbishop…

Such moves hint, even at this early stage, only two weeks into his papacy, at an apparent effort by Francis to demystify the office of pope.

Unlike his predecessors, he doesn’t sign his name “Pope Francis,” ending his official correspondence simply “Francis.”

To those closest he is still Bergoglio, and this week, Italian state radio broadcast a voice mail he left wishing a friend Happy Birthday. “It’s Bergoglio,” the pope said, using the surname he was born with.

Even on Day One, Francis didn’t acknowledge he was pope.

Speaking on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica after his election the night of March 13, Francis told the tens of thousands gathered there that the cardinals’ task during the conclave had been to “give Rome a bishop.”

Yet on the other hand, he’s showing everyone [worldwide] who’s the boss:

His first official “on-the-job” action was to hint at a major shake-up of “business as usual” at the Vatican, having appointed a commission of cardinals whose job is to advise him on how to “reform” the Curia.

In his first major move as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis on Saturday appointed a panel of cardinals from around the world to advise him in overhauling the Roman Curia, the scandal-plagued administrative body of the Vatican. On Sunday, he followed that up by telling priests to practice what they preach.

The Vatican on Saturday said eight cardinals—ranging from Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay—will be responsible for drawing up a plan to revise the Curia’s constitution. That document defines the roles and reporting lines within Vatican central administration, determining how the pope governs his 1.2 billion-strong flock in matters including Roman Catholic doctrine, bishop appointments and Vatican finances.

Sunday during a Mass in Rome, Pope Francis said ordinary Catholics need to “see in our actions what they hear from our lips.”

“Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the church’s credibility,” he said.

The announcement of the panel marked the opening salvo of a papacy that many cardinals and rank-and-file Catholics expect to introduce sweeping reforms. Over the past year, the Curia has become the center of numerous controversies that began with the theft of papal documents by the butler of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; soared amid infighting among Vatican cardinals; and culminated with Benedict XVI’s resignation, the first in 600 years.

By taking on the powerful Curia just one month into his pontificate, Pope Francis is steering straight into the eye of the storm. The Catholic Church is beset with problems world-wide that the creaky centuries-old Curia has struggled to face down.

According to the article, “The geographical makeup of the new advisory group is also a sign of Pope Francis’ goal of turning the church’s focus outward”.

It promises some interesting moments.