Francis the Ignatian pope

Ignatian humility

Pope Francis has been the focus of much commentary for his Franciscan spirit, his simplicity, love of the poor and concern for nature. There is also much in our new Pope’s style that demonstrates his Jesuit spirituality, above all his freedom with respect to the traditional trappings of the papacy.

- Drew Christiansen, America

Like Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis is clearly a man of certain character. Whether it is living in Santa Marta guesthouse or traveling in compact vehicles, he knows what he wants. Beginning with his rejection of the regal red mozzetta for his introduction to the world from Saint Peter’s balcony and minutes later giving away the heavily embroidered papal stole to an attendant monsignor, he showed he was in charge. But in doing so he also showed his freedom from all the pressures that have made previous popes prisoners of the Vatican.

Interior Freedom

As I witnessed his day by day abandonment of centuries-old custom, I marvelled at his joyful, spiritual freedom. I soon realized it manifested his appropriation of the Ignatian value of “indifference.” It is an old-fashioned, philosophical term, borrowed from the Stoics, but what indifference means is freedom from distracting and degrading attachments, so as to be free to do what is more conducive to the good of souls.

As Pope Francis has made his daily changes, it has become clear that his aim is to make the church the church of Christ, welcoming to all, and appealing because it shows its care for all people.

One maxim that comes from the Spiritual Exercises, tantum quantum, summarizes the principle for using all created things: Use them insofar as they contribute to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Discard and reject them, when they lead away from that goal. Francis has done much to further the supervision and reform of the Vatican Bank, but he has also made it clear the Holy See may not need its own bank.
His basic choices follow the rule: tantum quantum. If there is a genuine apostolic purpose for running a bank, it is run in accord with that purpose and does not distract from the church’s evangelizing mission, then it has a place. If not, then it is wholly dispensable.

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