Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pope Francis and G.K. Chesterton

We are all looking for clues to the personality and interests of our new Pope Francis, but one possible indicator has so far escaped the notice of the media. Pope Francis seems to be a fan of the English writer G.K. Chesterton—in fact as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he sponsored two major conferences of the Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture. (Latin America was turned on to Chesterton by the great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, and the Argentinian Chesterton Society has for some years been pressing for Chesterton’s canonization.) Of course, this may just reflect his love of literature in general, rather than a specific devotion to Chesterton, but I hope to find out more in time. In any case, Chesterton’s love of the “common man” matches the new Pope’s evident attitude, as does his solid doctrinal orthodoxy. And Chesterton is also a favourite writer of the Communion and Liberation movement, with which the Pope was once associated. It all fits with what Catholic writer George Weigel has been calling the mood of “evangelical Catholicism” that’s in the air these days. I wonder if we will hear echoes of Distributism in some future social encyclical.

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