Anyone visited the Lateran Basilica? In the great city of… Rome!
Rome offers a unique view of the Catholic world. First time I visited, I realized that, until then, I had seen the world off-center. The Catholic world, which extends to every continent, not to mention back in time for two millennia—that world has one geographical and historic center. Rome. The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church has a single geographic and historic center point. And, praised be God, you can get a good cappuccino there.
From that center point, you see the world from a unique point-of-view. You hear all the languages and see all the skin colors involved in the one Church.
Most holy places in the world receive pilgrims from some far-flung places—like the Shrine in Washington receives pilgrims from all fifty states, or the shrine in Guadalupe, Mexico, receives pilgrims from all of Latin America. But Rome alone receives pilgrims from everywhere.
One man sits on the chair at the center of Rome; one man sits at the center of the center of the Church. Namely…
We owe him a huge amount of respect, if for no other reason than that he has this far-more comprehensive view of the world. The pope’s unique point-of-view can become a terrible burden. It also can fill him with a unique love for the one Church. He alone sees from the point-of-view of the man at the center of the center.
Also, the pope’s unique point-of-view allows him to grasp just how small he himself really is, in the grand scheme of things. He can see just how much everything really depends on God and His Providence.
So let’s rejoice in the fact that really matters, when it comes to the unity of the Church. All of us Catholics agree on it. Pope Francis is the pope. He alone has the right to sit on the chair of Peter. He alone has that crushing duty. We agree on who the pope is. That itself is an amazing and wonderful thing.
Maybe I think Pope Francis is the worst pope since Vatican I. Or maybe I think he’s the best. Doesn’t really matter what I think on that subject. None of us can competently judge the job-performance of a pope anyway. That judgment exceeds our pay-grade. Let’s leave such judgments to God.
The great thing is simply that we all agree on who the pope is. May he preside in health and holiness, from the center of our one, beloved, ancient, and worldwide Church. Long may he live. We love our Holy Father.