It's not nice to fool Mother Nature nor is it wise to play fast and footloose with the Holy See. He walks softly and carries a big stick. He's not someone who suffers fools and intolerance easily or without response. I gotta say, from an outsider, I like this guy. Add me to the list headed by Bill Maher who thinks the church made a good choice this time.
Pope Francis showed what he's made of on Monday when he took action against a conservative American cardinal who has been an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage. The Pontiff replaced Cardinal Raymond L. Burke from the Congregation for Bishops on a powerful Vatican committee with another American who is less identified with the culture wars within the Roman Catholic Church.
This action is seen by those inside the velvet church ropes to be a warning. There's a new sheriff in town and he's strong, compassionate, understanding and believes on lifting the church and all of it's congregants to new levels of humanity and humility. Two good "H's" to shoot for.
Ideology meet theology. Catholic Church meet the real world. There's plenty of changes coming, and there's plenty of room for them. Catholics all over the world have been yearning for a leader to take them into modern times and deal with contemporary issues. The pope can't do that alone. He's going to need allies and help.
To replace Cardinal Burke, Francis chose Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, an ideological moderate with a deep knowledge of the Vatican but also with pastoral experience. Father Reese noted that Cardinal Burke had been a leader of American bishops arguing that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving communion, while Cardinal Wuerl had taken an opposite tack.
The change in theocracy isn't just in replacing Pope Benedict XVI with Pope Francis, or Cardinal Burke with Cardinal Wuerl. The all-star team on the Pontiff's team has another new player in the fold.
The pope also removed Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, from the Congregation for Bishops. From his committee post, Cardinal Rigali has long been a crucial player in shaping the American hierarchy. He stepped down as archbishop of Philadelphia amid a scandal over his handling of priest abuse cases there.
And Francis reconfirmed the congregational posting for Cardinal William J. Levada, a former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Like Cardinal Wuerl, Cardinal Levada is considered a moderate.
So plow on Christian soldiers. You're building a good, strong team. And we owe a tip of the hat to your manager, Pope Francis.