by Anita McSorley
Whenever Harry Connick Jr. is asked if he is a practicing Catholic, he is always quick to say he is.
He then immediately assures whoever asked the question that he’s also going to “keep on practicing until I get it right.”
I am reminded of Harry as I study Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of Love,” to which The Leaven devoted several pages of this week’s issue.
That’s because the document seems to reveal so clearly that Pope Francis knows that I’m right there with Harry — along with several zillion other people, probably.
Better yet, though, is that “The Joy of Love” seems to suggest that the pope doesn’t care! He wants to walk with Harry and me (and presumably the additional several zillion others) just the same.
Now every pope brings to the church many personal gifts, as well as his own unique writing style. And this pope is no exception.
But perhaps the quality of Pope Francis that I admire most is his breadth of vision, which I attribute to the breadth of life experience he carried with him into that fateful conclave.
I am in the enviable position of having a job that requires me to keep up on what this man is saying. So I know he speaks often of the plight of refugees, the crushing weight on the soul of un- or underemployment, and, in this document, even the inadvertent consequences of solutions the church has offered its followers in the past.
But what is easy to forget is that he is not speaking academically.
As the multiple biographies already done on him will bear out, Pope Francis has actually known, talked to, and walked with people bearing these burdens and more.
We all learned a lot about the pope when he was first elected. We learned he took public transportation to and from work every day in Argentina, cooked for himself in his tiny apartment, and was a familiar figure in the streets and homes of his neighbors in the barrio.
Now, through documents like the “The Joy of Love,” we’re learning how lessons learned in the barrio can inform documents that will shape the life of the church for years to come.