“THE impression Pope Francis gave was that he was going to make the papacy rather than have the papacy make him.“
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said this had been a key thought during his first meeting with the Pope in Rome recently.
“He is very much his own man, perhaps because he is so evidently a man of God,” he said. “That combination too is strangely moving.”
Archbishop Coleridge was in Rome for a meeting of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications.
During the meeting Pope Francis spoke on the importance of social communication, which he said, had become “a living environment for many”.
Archbishop Coleridge said his audience with the Pope was scheduled for noon in the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace.
“The first thing I noticed when I entered the hall was that the Pope’s chair was no longer on a raised dais but on the ground,” he said.
“Normally the pope is late for audiences, especially late in the morning, but this time it was different. He actually arrived early.
“I was chatting with the Arch-bishop of Dublin when we heard a bit of movement and there, much to my surprise, was the Pope.
“He entered the room not in stately style, sweeping to the chair amid the applause of the crowd.
“He sauntered in smiling, shook a few hands, swapped a few pleasantries and then strolled to the chair.
“I couldn’t help but notice his dress.
“First, he was wearing his old black shoes. Then beneath the white soutane, you could see he was wearing the old black daks.”
Archbishop Coleridge said Pope Francis gave his speech standing rather than sitting which was another departure from protocol.
“The Pope had a prepared text, but he often departed from it in asides that were often more interesting than the prepared text,” he said.
“Then he met each of us with an informality and good humour which was again something new.
“Eventually he sauntered out as casually as he had entered.”