Busted Halo

Mike Hayes and guest authors give insight into the surprises of Pope Francis’ papacy, shedding light on how and why this pope is doing things a bit differently.

Click this banner to see the entire series.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
October 2nd, 2014
Pope Francis is setting a course for compassion ahead of the Synod of Bishops

Pope Francis blesses new spouses while celebrating marriage rite for 20 couples. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses new spouses while celebrating marriage rite for 20 couples. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As the Church prepares for the upcoming Synod (or meeting) of Bishops on the Family, is Pope Francis sending us signals as to what we can expect?

Everyone is on edge waiting to hear what Pope Francis has in mind. Will he lift the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion? Will he talk about couples who live together before marriage? Will he address questions on birth control? It’s anyone’s guess as to what direction the October gathering of bishops is going to take.

But recently the pope may have tipped his hand when he presided over the weddings of 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome, many of whom already had children or had been living together.

During the wedding Mass, Pope Francis said, “This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man. Here we see the reciprocity of differences.”

There is a big question about how the

August 19th, 2014

Young women wait for Pope Francis to arrive to celebrate the closing Mass of the Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Young women wait for Pope Francis to arrive to celebrate the closing Mass of the Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

South Korea is hardly a common summer destination.

But Pope Francis is not a common man, and by now, we’ve come to expect — even eagerly anticipate — his uncommon approach. So, what did the “Francis Factor” look like on Korean soil?

It looked like peace and reconciliation in the face of tense division. It looked like simple humility in the face of wealth and prestige. It looked like solidarity, human dignity and, perhaps most importantly, dialogue. It looked like an elderly Argentinean man dressed in white, driving about in a Kia, greeting people, encouraging them, comforting them and mourning with them when they were in pain.

Simply stepping foot on Korean soil reaffirmed the pope’s commitment to go to the margins, to encounter those who often go overlooked. As only the third pope to visit Asia and the second to visit Korea (St. John Paul II visited in 1984), Francis arguably turned international expectations on their head. Catholics, at 10.9 percent of the population, are well in the minority, and Francis’ …

August 1st, 2014

Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children's lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he delivers Sunday Angelus.All is lost with with war, especially children’s lives and future, the pope said. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Lately, we’ve been bombarded with so many sad events. From the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down in Ukraine, to children and others fleeing Central America because of unbearable gang violence, to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, the world indeed looks like a precarious place.

In times like these, we are called to pray for and to do whatever is necessary for peace. And Pope Francis has given us good examples of both.

Regarding the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, Pope Francis drew attention especially to minors seeking asylum from the violence and oppression in a speech directed mostly at Mexico, but with a clear call for U.S. immigration policy officials to pay attention.

“Such a humanitarian emergency demands as a first urgent measure that these minors be protected and duly taken in,” Pope Francis said. He reminds us not to forget those in harm’s way when we can easily be preoccupied with our own personal worries and problems.

When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down, the pope called not

June 19th, 2014

popemobilesardinecan1“I remember in Brazil, they’d provided for me an enclosed Popemobile, but I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is made of glass. For me it is a wall.” — Pope Francis to La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper

We’ve got one cool pope. The guy greets large crowds all the time, kisses kids on the head, drinks coffee from strangers, and reportedly sneaks out at night to visit the homeless.

So, perhaps the popemobile, a vehicle with bulletproof glass on all sides, is sending the wrong message.

I remember when the popemobile first arrived on the scene after the attempted assassination of John Paul II. We all thought it was kind of cool, but it did seem to restrict the movements of a very vibrant pope.

Restrictions are something Pope Francis would like to avoid, and furthermore, Pope Francis knows the risks. In the recent Vanguardia article, he also notes his age and realizes that he may not have too many opportunities to bring the love of the pope so directly to others.

“It is true something could happen to me but let’s be realistic, at my age I …

May 20th, 2014
The pope's upcoming trip to the Holy Land continues a tradition of building ecumenical and interfaith relationships

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a meeting at Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a meeting at Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis is cultivating a “culture of encounter.” And his garden is not just within the Catholic Church, but includes Christians from other churches as well as members of other world religions.

This is not a new style for him. When he was still Cardinal Bergoglio in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in Argentina, his financial manager was an evangelical into whose office he would regularly come, and with whom he would read some scripture, share some prayer, and drink some tea. When another asked him why he did that, his response was: “People do that with their friends!”

He was making a point about his relationship with evangelicals. Indeed, Cardinal Bergoglio’s election as pope received a glowing response in evangelical circles throughout the Americas. Christianity Today, the flagship publication of evangelicalism in America, ran three high-profile pieces detailing the reaction of leading evangelicals who had worked with him during his decades of ministry in Latin America, or were familiar with it.

Juan Pablo Bongarrá, president of the Argentine Bible Society, recalled when Bergoglio once attended a …

May 16th, 2014

Pope Francis celebrates ordination Mass for new priests in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Francis celebrates ordination Mass for new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Earlier this week, Pope Francis ordained 13 new priests, and he took great pains in announcing what he considered their main job to be as clerics: Be merciful.

In his homily, the pope said that he gets upset when he no longer sees people going to confession because people were “scolded” by their confessors, “as if the church doors were closed in their face.”

“Please don’t do this,” the pope told 13 new priests he ordained in the basilica. He used the example of Jesus who never tired of showing mercy to others. Pope Francis said priests should remember that Jesus “didn’t come to condemn but to forgive.” More from Vatican Radio:

He called on the newly ordained to “be aware that you were chosen from among men and established in their favour to attend to the things of God,” to “exercise the priestly work of Christ with joy and sincere charity;” to be intent “on pleasing God, and not yourselves.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily saying, “Have always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who did not come to …

April 25th, 2014
Papal Saints John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized — is Oscar Romero far behind?

saintsinthemaking-v2Upon the death of John Paul II, the chants began in the streets of Rome: “Santo Subito! Santo Subito!” (“Sainthood now!”)

Now a pope doesn’t make a saint willy-nilly; this takes careful deliberation. When the process of making saints began, they were named by acclimation of the people in a particular area. That is why we have names like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Anthony of Padua. When the full population in an area followed the example and began calling a person a saint, it stuck. (Obviously, that kind of system can be abused and actually the Church has gone back and removed some saints from the rolls because they frankly just didn’t measure up.)

John Paul II will be named a saint by Pope Francis. Some would say Francis didn’t wait long enough. Many are still troubled by the number of priest-abusers and abuse-enablers that endangered children on John Paul II’s watch. Others think there are people, even other popes, who are more deserving of sainthood.

Say, for instance, John XXIII, who led the Church by calling for the Second Vatican Council and opening the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air. Aggornamento is the …

March 27th, 2014
President Obama’s trip to the Vatican is a coming home of sorts

President Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

President Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

As President Obama and Pope Francis lock eyes for the first time, I imagine that the pope’s pastoral presence has brought back many memories for our country’s Commander in Chief.

What most people don’t know is that while the president is not a Catholic in terms of religious denomination, he was certainly steeped in the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching in his early days as a community organizer in Chicago. Those days shaped most of his political social thought as well as his religious outlook. Take this quote from President Obama’s commencement address to graduates at Notre Dame in 2009:

And something else happened during the time I spent in those neighborhoods. Perhaps because the church folks I worked with were so welcoming and understanding; perhaps because they invited me to their services and sang with me from their hymnals; perhaps because I witnessed all of the good works their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church, but to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.

This all …

March 11th, 2014

Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“A Jesuit named Francis … a little something for everyone,” I texted my colleague who works at a Franciscan University.

I watched as Pope Francis emerged on the balcony last March and bowed his head, asking the crowd to pray for him. I was taken aback at the new Holy Father’s humble gesture. Not only could you hear a pin drop in St. Peter’s Square at that moment, but many of my students were captivated by the event, many of whom aren’t even Catholic.

“I love this ceremony,” said a Jewish student standing near me. “Does the new pope do this every time?”

“We could only hope,” I joked. “No, this is new. Maybe this guy will surprise all of us.”

It indeed has been a whirlwind year since the election of Pope Francis and right out of the gate this new pontiff was full of surprises. Busted Halo® looks back at Pope Francis’ first year and highlights some of the surprises he had in store for the world.

#1 The First Francis 

Never before has there been a pope with the name Francis. Some …

March 4th, 2014

Pope Francis blesses a child during a meeting with members of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a child during a meeting with members of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis wrote a letter to all of us, that is, each family — asking for prayers for October’s Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The synod (group of church leaders) is being convened to discuss “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.”

In short, this will be a large meeting where Catholic bishops from all over the world will gather to discuss matters relating to families. As the pope put it in his letter, “This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church.” [emphasis added]

The issues discussed in October may be weighty. Specifically the Synod may have much to say about being more pastorally present to those who are divorced and remarried and wish to remain Catholic but feel unwelcome in the Church. Annulment proceedings …

January 21st, 2014

SuperPope-1I’ve always loved superheroes. Mostly because my dad would read old Marvel comics to my brothers and me. (We converted my mom to comic nerd-dom later on.) Then when I got older, the deluge of superhero movies began. In fact, my first Hollywood crush was Tobey Maguire from the original Spiderman movies. These movies were special to me and not just because of how dreamy I thought Spidey was. I admired Spiderman because he was so inherently good.

Out of all the superheroes, Spiderman probably has one of the worst lives. Yet, 90% of the time, he acts selflessly, always looking out for those who need his help. He even faces giving up the one he loves most (for her own safety) with courage. To me, that’s the essence of a hero. Not someone glamorous or fancy, but someone who in the face of adversity chooses to prioritize others over themselves.

Flash forward to the popular superhero movies of today. Obviously, they’re having a big moment in pop culture. The movies are a little different from a few years ago. Okay, totally different. They’re slick. They’re glamorous. The heroes may have “problems,” but they’re usually glossed over. Why save the …

January 6th, 2014
Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square after leading an evening prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter’s Square after leading an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the beginning of a New Year, we can turn to the words of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) for inspiration as we tighten up our commitments, forge into new territory, and pray together for lives filled with joy — of all kinds — in 2014.

Resolution #1: Be Joyful

Obviously this is at the heart of the papal message in Evangelii Gaudium, and something Pope Francis professes himself. It’s not always easy to be joyful, especially when we are in physical pain or when someone hurts our feelings. But Francis reminds us that:

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.

And he furthers this point powerfully later in his apostolic exhortation:

There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great …

December 17th, 2013
Add your comments to our virtual card for the Holy Father

Today is Pope Francis’ 77th birthday, and even though we weren’t the only ones with this idea, we thought it’d be fun to write our thoughts down for him and ask you to share yours as well.

To open our card and see what we’ve written to Pope Francis, just click on the card. Then, add your own blessings, well wishes and birthday greetings to the Holy Father in the comments section below.

November 5th, 2013
Pope Francis embraces a boy at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis embraces a boy at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Mark Mason is a gay activist and an outspoken atheist. He’s an unlikely Catholic cheerleader. So why is he such a fan that he’s set a Google Alert so he can read every piece of news coverage on Pope Francis?

Busted Halo: How did you arrive at your place of atheism?
Mark Mason: I was not always an atheist, but sometime after college I pursued my course of increased rationalism, which, to me, led me to the lack of evidence around believing in any god. One thing I think it’s really important to say is that atheism is not a club. The only thing we have in common is a lack of belief.
BH: Pope aside, what is your overall perception of the Catholic Church today?
MM: I think the Catholic Church in this day and age is unfairly buried in the crisis that happened of a sexual nature. And to me that’s unfortunate because sexual addiction happens regardless of religion or race or socioeconomics. But our pop culture’s attempts at comedy have framed the church as almost paralyzed by scandal.

I’m

October 8th, 2013
Pope Francis weighs in on workers’ dignity and the global economy
Pope Francis wears a hard hat he received from a miner during Mass the outside Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Sardinia. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis wears a hard hat he received from a miner during Mass the outside Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in Sardinia. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Many advocates for economic justice were struck by Pope Francis’ candid remarks last month about our global economic system and the “idol” of money.

The pope’s impromptu comments came after a meeting with unemployed workers in Cagliari, Sardinia (an island off the coast of Italy), who shared their stories of struggle. Francis discarded his prepared speech and let the Spirit lead his remarks for nearly 20 minutes.

“It is not a problem of Italy and Europe,” he said of an economic system that marginalizes the poor and vulnerable. “It is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that brings about this tragedy, an economic system that has at its center an idol which is called money.”

Francis’ remarks were a solemn reminder that our current economic system does not reflect our values as Christians. All God’s children deserve work, and to work with dignity. We deserve to be compensated fairly for an honest day’s work. Work should provide the means for a roof over our head and food on …

October 4th, 2013
A conversation between a saint and a pope named Francis on the saint’s feast day (October 4).

Pope Francis kisses a hand-carved figure of St. Francis given to him at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis kisses a hand-carved figure of St. Francis given to him at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

St. Francis: Your Holiness, it’s so nice to see you!

Pope Francis: We can cut the formalities. After all, I took your name!

St. Francis: True, Jorge, true. I was honored but then I got jealous thinking you’ll be the more famous Francis.

Pope Francis: Ignatius of Loyola must be giving you a lot of grief!

St. Francis: Nope, but he lost a bundle! He bet that you were going to take his name after you were announced. I gave him 3-1 odds that it wouldn’t be “Ignatius.”

Pope Francis: Ouch! He’s gonna give me a lot of heartache for that one. Since I’m a Jesuit and all.

St. Francis: The fact is that you’re giving him a lot of good press. And you’re doing a swell job!

Pope Francis: Thanks, thanks. It’s not easy. Do you have any advice?

St. Francis: Well, I appreciate you highlighting my teachings about the poor. Lately I’ve been known as “that guy with all the animals.”

Pope Francis: Yeah, Pope Benedict thinks I should get a cat, but I’m more …

October 1st, 2013
Pope Francis blesses a boy as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses a boy as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Steve Lehmann isn’t Catholic, but as a grad student at the University of Notre Dame and self-described “armchair theologian,” he watches the Catholic Church closely. Nearly six months after the beginning of Pope Francis’ leading that church, here is what the new pontiff has meant from one evangelical’s perspective.

Busted Halo: Tell us about yourself and your religious background.
Steve Lehmann: I was born and raised on Lake Michigan, in a little town called Ogden Dunes. I went to undergrad at a little liberal arts college, Valparaiso [University]. I studied engineering and the humanities. After the recession, I ended up in Oxford doing a postgraduate course in Christian Apologetics. I studied with Alister McGrath and John Lennox, famous for his debates with atheists. I’m a big fan of existential questions.

I was raised Lutheran, in the Missouri Synod. Right now I’m a member of the Christian Reformed Church, one of the standard evangelical churches. I attend South Bend Christian Reformed Church, which I love.

BH: Regardless of who is pope, what’s your perception of the Catholic Church in this day

September 25th, 2013
Reactions to the pope's in-depth interview and what it means for young adults

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for the general audience in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of the Italian La Civiltà Cattolica, has created a masterpiece of an interview with Pope Francis, cobbled together from questions from 16 Jesuit journals, including America magazine here in the United States.

What’s the takeaway for young adults? In this initial reflection, I’m going to share my thoughts on that question. Later, and as we continue to see Pope Francis in action, I’ll reflect more deeply on the issues he’s covered in the interview. For now, my thought is that synthesis makes for easier reading.

Be a humble sinner

The interview starts with a simple question and a short answer: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” (Pope Francis’ given name) and his simple yet profound response — “I am a sinner.”

He goes on further.

“Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I am one who is looked upon by the Lord. I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By …

September 23rd, 2013
People shelter from rain as Pope Francis leads a devotion at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters)

People shelter from rain as Pope Francis leads a devotion at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters)

Recently, a former student came to me for advice about dealing with a group of people who didn’t share the Church’s ideas on a variety of subjects. I thought immediately of what Pope Francis might say.

I noted to the student that relationships take work. And many times we will encounter people in the world who do not share our beliefs. Our goal is not to be dismissive, but rather to stay in relationship with these people anyway. To dismiss them would sever the possibility of relationship. I also noted the words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

Too often people use these words to justify a position that we believers possess the truth, and if others don’t heed our words we should simply go on our merry way and disregard their friendship. However, a careful reading shows that Jesus required more of us. He said only to move on if people don’t welcome you or listen to you. They …

September 16th, 2013
The first papal phone, donated to Pope Pius XI by Catholics in the United States, was used for decades until the end of Pope John XXIII's pontificate. (CNS photo)

The first papal phone, donated to Pope Pius XI by Catholics in the United States, was used for decades until the end of Pope John XXIII’s pontificate. (CNS photo)

When my class of high school students wrote to the president, I had high hopes. I could see it now: I get a stately letter — very official looking — and gingerly open it to find a beautiful handwritten note from Barack Obama himself. It would be the ultimate fist bump, one you could frame and brag about for years. Well, no such thing happened. We got a generic letter, an electronic signature, and a picture of Bo, the dog, which was a nice touch. I framed it anyway. While I’ve given up my quest for a presidential letter, I’m not entirely ready to throw in the towel. Lately, I’ve been thinking I should start writing to Pope Francis.

The world has been watching as the pope has made a number of phone calls to people who have written to him: an Italian man whose brother was murdered, a doorman at the Jesuit mother house in Rome, and the pope’s shoemaker and newspaper deliveryman in Argentina. The most recent

Page 1 of 212
powered by the Paulists