There’s been a lot of press about the interview Fr. Antonio Spardano, SJ, conducted with Pope Francis this past August, which was published in its English translation last week in America magazine.
It’s a powerful interview for many reasons. The pope talked about women in the Church, abortion and other moral concerns, and the role of the curia, among other topics. He also spoke about his own life, such as why he joined the Jesuits, his experience in Church governance, and the importance of the arts in his life. And it was with that last topic where I was reminded of a phrase from the movie, Jerry Maguire: “You had me at hello.”
One of Francis’s favorite movies, like mine, is Fellini’s La Strada. He also admires Caravaggio, and Chagall, two painters who I am fond of, as well. He listens to Mozart and Bach (who doesn’t like either one of them?), and although he also enjoys Wagner on occasion, we can forgive him that in light of his other pluses. And not only does he like these various composers, he cites particular pieces as favorites and — there’s more — specific performances of these pieces!
Here’s someone I’d like to have dinner with. I’d ask the pope what he thought about some of Fellini’s other, more nefarious films, like Casanova and Satyricon. Had he read M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio? Now there’s a story that calls for non-judgment! What works of Dostoevsky does he enjoy the most, and why? We might even recite a few Gerard Manley Hopkins poems, just for fun.
The man, Pope Francis, who takes the time to call people who write him letters that stand out, who calls for more prominent roles for women in the Church, who chooses to live in in an apartment rather than the papal rooms, would surely be someone who would enjoy dining with a simple laywoman. We would have so much to talk about, and never once would we mention the Church.
There are many reasons why I think this pope is the essence of aggiornamento. His humanity is well known, as is his passion for social justice. This is something that is clearly needed in the Church today. But the fact that he is so personally invested in the arts? Priceless.
CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters