Last month there was an uproar in the media regarding a supposed “snub” that Pope Francis gave to the Cardinals. Apparently, there was supposed to be this gala concert where Pope Francis was to be the guest of honor. However, the Pope was a no-show. He skipped the concert altogether leaving the Cardinals dumbfounded. It was an awkward sight indeed with the Cardinals dressed in ‘abito piano’ next to the Pope’s empty white chair in the middle aisle.
Some are speculating that Pope Francis was giving the Cardinals a message that he is not a Pope that will be “led by the hand” – he will be doing things HIS way. When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. He wanted to bring his cats to the Papal residence but was told that he could not. He humbly complied despite having the authority to overrule the residence staff. Who is the butler to tell the Pope how he can live in his place? Perhaps they tried to do the same with Pope Francis by “making” him attend this concert? Who knows… Others are stating that this is just Francis being Francis; or showing his unique humility by demonstrating that he does not want to be honored. Then there is the, “Pope is too busy to party” opinion.
Whatever the truth is, I think this can be problematic. I remember a religious brother telling me to avoid being a ‘singularity.’ In other words, I should not be “standing out” in the crowd, otherwise, this will look like I am seeking self-glorification or attention. The Pope’s unique humility style can be interpreted in this way. Look at how people have attacked Pope Emeritus because he used traditional vestments and loved to show the royal aspect of the Papacy all because Pope Francis is presenting the Papacy in his own way. Pope Francis is becoming a ‘singularity.’
However, if the real reason for the “snub” was to send a message to the Cardinals that there are more important things to do, then I agree. I probably would have done the same thing. If the Church is imploding from within and being attacked from without, then taking time to be honored or entertained at concerts would not be on my to-do list. Our real honor and celebration should be when we learn that we have reached at least one lost soul.