One of my all-time favourite films is “Saving Grace” with Tom Conti. It’s not on DVD in the UK and although the VHS version is quite costly, it would be a price I’d be willing to pay if only I had a VHS player.
Thankfully youtube.com has come to my rescue. The film in ten minute chunks is floating in cyberspace ready from me to start watching.
The plot summary goes as follows:
“A newly-elected Pope Leo XIV finds himself accidentally locked out of the Vatican. Unknown to the outside world, he winds up in an impoverished Italian village, where his adventures ultimately teach the Pope and his new friends some important lessons about friendship and self-esteem.”
A 6.7 rating? Who are they kidding?
I like the film because it presents the Pope as a human being making choices like everyone else – but unlike everyone else his decisions don’t pander to the “me-first” obsession we seem to cultivate. What he wants is what is best for everyone no matter how difficult it is to accomplish. He sets out to help people to discover and reclaim their dignity. He doesn’t particularly win friends that way. There are no easy solutions and no one is allowed to take the short cut or the easy way out. In that respect he is so like Jesus.
I am not much of a Pope fan. I don’t have anything in common with someone who claims to be infallible. I don’t have anything in common with such a male dominated set up. Maybe I would be a little less hostile if the Pope and his cardinals, bishops and priests had wee wives.
I am a fan of Pope Francis. I like him because he selected the name of one of my favourite saints to be his own. He is like Tom Conti’s Pope Leo XIV. He doesn’t distance himself from his flock and he leads through service.
This is why I find this photograph so amazing. It is not just any wall he is standing in front of. It is the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I have seen that wall from afar many years ago when there were very strict rules about who was allowed near and who wasn’t. I think it has all changed somewhat – but Pope Francis is there, not as a man on holiday, but as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems such a symbolic gesture – not something empty or hollow, but a reflection of a heart that is distressed by so much division and separation between people, much as God is distressed by it all.
We build our walls to separate
To close the door on those we hate
But brick by brick and stone by stone
All walls will fall before God’s throne