The unadorned, laceless, black clogs of the fisherman

Some time ago I wrote:

Imagine being 76 with a flare up of sciatica and, on your election as Pope, being told, “Here, Your Holiness, change into these new shoes and then stand a long time while we greet you and then walk around and show yourself in public for the first time.” I’d say that’s an argument for the sedia. Francis, however, probably thought, “I’ll stick with my old shoes, thanks very much.”

Now I read this on CNA:

Pope phones Argentine shoemaker for shoe repairs

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2013 / 01:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis, who has quickly become known for his austere style, will continue using his simple black shoes and has called his shoemaker from his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina to repair them.

For 40 years, 81 year-old Carlos Samaria has provided shoes from his store on the outskirts of the Argentine capital for Pope Francis, who was known before his election to the papacy as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.

“Hello Samaria, it’s Bergoglio,” the phone conversation began.

“But who is this?” the shoemaker responded with surprise.

“Samaria, it’s Francis, the Pope!” the Holy Father replied.

According to Vatican Radio’s Brazilian program, [And who know what that means for the actual wording in English here...] the Holy Father told Samaria, “No red shoes, make them black like usual.”

Samaria said the shoes Pope Francis wears “are simple and made of black leather, with a smooth toe and no decorations.

“If you were to grab one of the Pope’s shoes it would feel like a clog, without any adornment but with laces,” the shoemaker explained.

“He doesn’t want new shows, only that I fix his old ones,” Samaria said.

However, he added that he is planning to “make a new but simple pair to be ready for him when he says I can visit, in May.”

Again, it doesn’t strike me as strange that a 76 year old with pain walking would stick with shoes that he knows.

On the other hand, he is now Bishop of Rome, not Buenos Aires. Italians… well… they know nothing about shoes, do they.  I could walk you to several cobblers, as a matter of fact.

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66 Responses to The unadorned, laceless, black clogs of the fisherman

  1. O. Possum says:

    Think of all the money that will be saved for the poor by shipping a worn out pair of shoes from Italy to Argentina to be repaired! Maybe he just wants to support his old cobbler?

  2. Priam1184 says:

    A humble and ‘austere’ style yet he sends across the sea to another continent for a shoe repairman?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. fizzwizz says:

    Just more nonsense in this wacky gimmicky papacy

  4. eulogos says:

    Well maybe he wants to give his friend the shoemaker the pleasure of making shoes for the Pope.
    Susan

  5. Fr. B says:

    “…its Francis, the Pope.” Is this the first time he has referred to himself in this way?

  6. Geoffrey says:

    It is also a show of loyalty that His Holiness would continue to engage the talents of his shoemaker in Argentina. There is nothing wrong with loyalty.

  7. JeffTL says:

    Sounds like this may be the same gentleman who made the Pope’s shoes in the first place…in which case obviously he wants the original manufacturer to repair them if possible. No different than sending mass produced footwear back to Allen Edmonds or LL Bean for new soles instead of your neighborhood cobbler, since those companies offers a refurbishment service for their products that is likely to yield more reliable results than going to a shop that doesn’t work with those exact products every day.

  8. gretta says:

    Ya know, both my parents have an awful time finding shoes that fit them. Bunions, funny arches, and other foot problems make it really difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably. It is a joke in my parents’ house to see how long dad will keep a new pair of shoes before he decides they are uncomfortable and he takes them back. I hate speculating on the pope’s feet, but at his age, if he does have trouble and he’s found a guy who can make him shoes that fit and allow him to better do his duties, then hooray for the cobbler, and send him the shoes. I’d rather have a pope who doesn’t have to waste his time worrying about uncomfortable shoes. He has bigger things to worry about, and ill-fitting shoes are just a needless and silly distraction.

  9. mamajen says:

    It would definitely be more frugal to use somebody local (or at least I assume so), but his loyalty is endearing. And he probably wants the repairs done “just right”, particularly if he does have foot problems. I wonder what he will wear in the mean time?

  10. rtjl says:

    Austerity would mean buying your shoes at K-Mart off the rack. I mean no disrespect to the hohy father – he can buy his shoes wherever he wants – just the lunatics who write and publish these stories.

  11. anna 6 says:

    I don’t know what size shoe he wears…but shipping shoes from Argentina? That’s a pretty big carbon footprint:)

  12. APX says:

    Geoffry,
    It is also a show of loyalty that His Holiness would continue to engage the talents of his shoemaker in Argentina. There is nothing wrong with loyalty.

    I’ll remember that the next time I fly from Alberta to Portland, OR to get my haircut because my hairstylist from Saskatchewan moved there and I haven’t been able to find a replacement with her level of talent for actually cutting hair evenly and working with cowlicks.

    When I do it, people think it’s absurd and over-the-top. When the pope does it, it’s a sign of humility and loyalty.

  13. HyacinthClare says:

    Aw, c’mon, you all. Give the man a break. He can afford it; it’s consistent with his apparent personal style; his shoemaker undoubtedly is happy to keep the business. In my opinion, this is one of those things we do not need to have an opinion about.

  14. mamajen says:

    Who said anything about flying? Or humility for that matter? Postage costs are not that much really, and it might work out to be less than a new pair of shoes would cost.

    It seems to be the trend lately to draw one’s own conclusions about the Pope’s intentions, and then criticise him based on those conclusions (which may be completely off base).

  15. Gregg the Obscure says:

    As an old man with bad feet I empathize with His Holiness. I’ve personally found Italian shoes to be lovely but sometimes painful. Spanish Pikolinos with Deutscher Birkenstock inserts have worked for me. Or Merrells with Birkos in casual moments

  16. Gaetano says:

    It’s gotta be the shoes!
    http://vimeo.com/8438332

  17. Geoffrey says:

    There is a big difference between travelling for a haircut and having a pair of shoes shipped to you. (Though I do personally know of a person or two who traveled a long way to their former hair dresser…)

    I honestly do not know why this is an issue. Did people complain this much when Blessed John Paul II wore his Polish brown loafers? What kind of shoes did the Servant of God Pope John Paul I wear? Venerable Paul VI? I believe Venerable Pius XII wore white shoes…

    This is feeling like the Catholic version of People Magazine…

  18. Anchorite says:

    Sounds like one stubborn old man with no intentions to change anything from how he started 40 years ago …
    Great …

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @APX,

    quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. (No offense, just quoting the proverb.)

    This is not sarcasm. He’s the Pope; nothing’s wrong with taking in the best light what he does.

    And… I myself once ordered a book all the way from the US to Europe (which was not available here, etc.). It’s not like we were talking about passenger flights; merely shipping. Airplanes have cargoes and ships are sailing around for just such purposes. As a matter of fact I often eat bananas. As a matter of fact the last great victory of the West (I know I’m being patriotic) has to some part been due to shipped bananas (half-joke).

    I agree with the dear @mamajen and the dear @HyacinthClare. If you ask me, and if there were any ” ” tags I would use them now, then why not have one’s work done by a Roman cobbler, as a Bishop of Rome.

    But… why not.

  20. Imrahil says:

    I tried to write “small” into these inverted commas and separated them from the arrows with a blank space.

  21. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Now accepting bets —

    The shoemaker sends along an extra pair of red ones as a lagniappe, and for the joy of his profession.

  22. Denis Crnkovic says:

    On the one hand, I am a bit exasperated by the press’s “Frank & Benny” show. On the other hand, if all of this is true, then the current Pope (ad multos annos) is either so stuck in his ways of the Argentine that he thinks that Roman shoemakers can’t make him a decent pair or he completely disdains red shoes from a stylistic (not a traditional “hermeneutic of continuity”) stance. Unfortunately, I am beginning to feel a certain ethnic bias here… I only hope that the press – as often happens – is spinning this tidbit in some 21st century mediocre media manner.

  23. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I do not care where the Pope gets his shoes to be honest, but for everyone else who tries to spin this as as sign of humility…ordering shoes from half way across the globe is *not* the cheapest, *not* the most parsimonious, *not* the most green-conscious, *not* the most lowly way of obtaining good cobbling.’ Perhaps in the greater scheme of things, this just demonstrates further how rigid Francis actually is in his set way of doing things and how slow he is to accept the vicissitudes becoming Pope.

    I don’t mind our Pope enjoying the perks of his office. If he loves those shoes and they provide optimal comfort for his old feet so he can better focus his thoughts/energy on fulfilling the Petrine ministry, good for him. I’d rather him spend more of his time writing encyclicals, books, reading Scripture & the Fathers, setting a consistent liturgical example, pondering the mysteries of the Liturgy and God and opening wide the vault of graces for the Church. I would rather him spend less of his time cooking his own meals, cobbling his own shoes and vacuuming his own floor.

    I mean when I think about the fact that here in a few years I’ll be done with medical residency and will finally be a practicing physician making a physician’s salary, will my free time on a Saturday afternoon be better spent mowing my own lawn or paying a neighbor kid to mow my lawn while I donate my medical expertise in a free clinic for the underserved?

    Would I be demonstrating “more humility” for mowing my own lawn rather than using my time utilizing my specific training/talents where there is a need? Anyone can mow my lawn (and I’ll be in a position to compensate them equitably for doing so), but not anyone can fix cleft lips or perform tonsillectomies or place ear tubes in poor children.

    I think the talking heads constantly commenting on everything the Pope does should consider this example. Personally, I would rather he spend his time doing Pope-ly things that only he can do (like writing papal encyclicals) and continue to provide his guards, cooks, apartment cleaners, etc, with the jobs they have always enjoyed in serving the papacy. For many of them it is likely about far more than work, they are *the Pope’s guard* or *the Pope’s cook*…that’s something you tell your grandkids about. No one cares that you used to be the Pope’s cook because you got fired when he decided to start cooking all his own meals.

  24. Giuseppe says:

    As someone who recently was blessed with a promotion at work, I love watching Bergoglio struggling with how to be Pope Francis. Granted, I’m not Pope, but I love how he’s trying to maintain his old life, remain connected with his peeps, all while trying to figure out how to nagivate life in the holy see. I’ve lost all objectivity: I adore this man.

    Wanna bet that Father Z will find this shoemaker and covince him to make a red pair that are more comfortable than the black pair?

  25. Giuseppe says:

    Father Z to Pope Francis: Wear the red, shelve the black.

  26. Art says:

    I can’t help thinking that these gestures are no more than a long, slow good-bye to his life in Buenos Aires. If it is any indication, I do look forward to hearing stories like this as he adjusts to his life in Rome as the Pope.

  27. PhilipNeri says:

    Religious don’t like change. Our priory procurator recently bought a different flavor of crackers for our recreation snack. Oh. Boy. Turns out: we like the new flavor. BUT. . .change? It’s bad. Real bad.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  28. Richard says:

    How I wish the conversation went:

    Samaria: These are hobo shoes, darling. You can’t be seen in this. I won’t allow it. Two months ago, maybe, but now? Feh!
    HH: Wait, what do you mean? *You* designed it.
    Samaria: I never look back, darling! It distracts from the now.
    HH: C, I just need a patch job. For… sentimental reasons.
    Samaria: Fine. I will also fix the hobo shoes.
    HH: You’re the best of the best, C
    Samaria: Yes, I know, dahling.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [Ah, one of the funniest characters in modern animated movies. She reminds me of liberals seminarians I endured in the bad old days.]

  29. NBW says:

    Odd. It would be nice if the Pope were to wear the red and shelve the black.

  30. Jeannie_C says:

    What exactly is the point of this blog post? If nothing else it gave the first two commenters an opportunity to Pope bash. What’s next – maybe a post on the state of his underalls? “Pope Francis wears desperados rather than shell out for underwear with intact elastic.”?

  31. Priam1184 says:

    I meant no criticism of Francis. If he wants to have his shoes repaired by the guy in Buenos Aires who has been doing it for the last twenty years I have absolutely zero issue with him doing that, after all a man has a perfect right to feel comfortable in his own shoes. What I am getting really sick of however is the stories that keep coming out about these “Hey, it’s Bergoglio!” phone calls to people back in Argentina that keep cropping up as an example of his humility or ‘austerity’. It’s none of my business (or anybody else’s business) who repairs the Holy Father’s shoes or who delivers his newspaper. Judge the man on his ability to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to manage the affairs of the Church and nothing else because that is his job. [When people received calls from Pius XII, first a secretary would say "Il Papa parla." Then the recipient of the call would hear Pius XII say, "Pacelli" or "Qui Pacelli".]

  32. Bea says:

    Do we really know that this ACTUAL conversation really took place?

    Assuming it did, P. Francis is becoming more endearing to me.

    I suffer from swollen feet and for the sake of fashion I suffer through different style shoes to match my outfit (after all I am a “girl” and I use “girl” loosely) but I know the men in my family go for comfort rather than looks.

    Our first Pope wore sandals or went barefoot. He’s probably laughing at all this gobbledygook about shoes red, black, brown or whatever. “Forget about the shoes, lets get on with the business of saving souls” he’s probably thinking. Forgive me , Peter, for trying to read your mind.

    He was elected with black comfortable shoes.
    In his saying: “Accett0″ does that mean he accepts red shoes, too? [The shoes? No. But this does fall into the category of decorum. That's a complicated issue.]
    I don’t know, I feel sorry for the Pope (the man under the microscope)

  33. daveams says:

    From what I understand, the economy in Argentina has been pretty bad for the last dozen years. Maybe this gesture will really help his friend; maybe give his business a little boost. I admire Pope Francis for his loyalty and thoughtfulness.

  34. Ana says:

    I admire the move and it sounds like he is continuing to give an old friend business while also arranging for that friend to come visit. He has health issues that probably leave an already older priest who is set in way very wary to make any adjustments to the type of shoes he wears. Not surprising here – human nature through and through. Maybe he will be surprised with a pair of red shoes although he didn’t request and he will wind up wearing them out of a desire not to let them go to waste. I have to agree with Fr. Philip Neri, OP that religious don’t like change and that could be a large part of it.

  35. UncleBlobb says:

    It sounds like Pope Francis misses home.

  36. Marcello says:

    I was terribly critical of the Holy Father’s choice of footwear, thinking it sacrilege he didn’t done those red babies from Gamarelli or wherever. But the more I think of it, at his age–and I am a decade or so behind, catching up quickly–perhaps he is more concerned with comfort. I have had terrible plantar fasciitis for years, bad circulation, numbness, etc. in my feet; I switched to clogs and they are the only shoes I can wear without terrible pain. Attending a black-tie event which requires patent-leather lace-ups or “court shoes” (dress pumps) is sheer agony. If he has bad feet, it’s natural for Francis to stick with what is comfortable.

  37. lydia says:

    Fr Z My husband was on his feet most of the day making rounds at three hospitals, in surgery, and in his office. When on our first trip to Italy he tried on a pair of shoes in Florence and was estatic. They felt like slippers and were so comfortable he bought 5 pairs. These were the only shoes he wore for about 12 yrs. He took them to an Italian shoemaker for any repairs that were needed, cleaned and buffed them when necessary and wouldn’t trade them for anything. He had bought two pair in France but they were not as comfortable. He’d give anyone the shirt of his back but not these shoes.

  38. deliberatejoy says:

    Maybe he knows that his old shoemaker yet needs the business, and that the publicity he gets for the fact that the Pope orders his shoes there will help boost his sales and feed his family?

    Also. Papa is, as was pointed out, 76. My dad is 71, and trying to get him to try new things and new places is like pulling teeth. He likes the proven familiar, particularly when it comes to food, clothes and small creature comforts. Cut the poor guy a break. His life has turned upside down and if he wants the reassurance that one small, extremely personal thing will remain the same… more power to him. It’d take a stricter moralist and traditionalist than me to begrudge him his preferred footwear.

  39. Joe in Canada says:

    I like HyacinthClare’s phrasing: it’s one of those things we don’t need to have an opinion about. I think it’s touching for him to invite an old man, a friend, who otherwise would probably never meet a Pope at home.

  40. deliberatejoy says:

    Never mind the fact that the article says that the shoemaker is 81. I would say that the possibility that such an aged working man DOESN’T need the money and business is next to nil. I would even go so far to say that Pope Francis’ preferential treatment there is a great act of charity.

    How does the saying go? “Make new friends/but keep the old/one is silver/and the other gold.

  41. Boniface says:

    Knock it off with the pope bashing, people. Enough. The devil (who our Pope actually talks about) eats that stuff up.

  42. SPWang says:

    Vatican Radio seems to be doing a lot of the ‘inside reporting’. Have they got a blog?

  43. MikeM says:

    I don’t care who repairs the Pope’s shoes. I’d imagine that this whole becoming Pope at 76 thing can be kind of unsettling… maybe doing business with merchants that he’s known for years provides a bit of comfort. Plus, he’s a grown man whose made it to age 76, been pretty successful in his endeavors along the way, and who’s now serving as Christ’s vicar and administering the largest religious organization ever (perhaps, by some metrics, the largest organization in the history of mankind)… I’m sure he’s more than capable of choosing his own shoemaker (and if he’s not, then that’s the least of our problems!)

    I do, however, have some serious doubts that the reported conversation occurred. For one thing, if he only wants his old shoes repaired, there’s no need to specify the color.

    And even if he were ordering new shoes, I don’t think that it’s typical for people to specify the color that they don’t want. “I’d like another pair of shoes, just like my old ones” would be totally sufficient.

  44. Mari Kate says:

    Haven’t you people ever heard of “The Shoes of the Fisherman”?

  45. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Atra Dicenda, Rubra Facienda,

    will my free time on a Saturday afternoon be better spent mowing my own lawn or paying a neighbor kid to mow my lawn while I donate my medical expertise in a free clinic for the underserved?

    Probably, and other things being equal, the former… though it’s a pity for the neighbor boy (if there would be one to volunteer, very unusual thing in my foreign eyes).

    For if you work as a physician and get, in addition to a physician’s salary, also a physician’s workload, I guess you’d be eager to spend the time off you do get (and when all the scientific journals are read) with anything-but-medicine, preferably something corporal (sports or manual labor).

    With greetings from a country where gardening is the hobby of virtually anyone who can afford a garden, and DIY (and being the man at the fireside on a barbecue party, as well as being a Catholic priest…), along with few other things, still are residues of the male sex, Imrahil.

    Parenthesis closed.

  46. Mariana says:

    BESPOKE shoes would be infinitely more comfortable than any store bought ones.

  47. Joan M says:

    Folks, there is nothing big here. Pope Francis can just have his comfortable shoes that need repairs slipped into the diplomatic bag for the Nunciature in Argentina. The cobbler can repair the shoes and return them to the Nunciature and – voila – they get returned to Rome. No big deal.

  48. moosix1974 says:

    I think too much is being made of this. I like the point someone made about the economy in Argentina. Perhaps this cobbler will get a boost in work once everyone knows he is making shoes for the pope. I say, “Good for him!”

  49. Simon_GNR says:

    So, Senor Samaria can now have a sign put up outide his shop front with the wording “Cobblers to the Pope”!! He might then hope to get more business from any Ulster Protestants who might passing his premises!

  50. Maltese says:

    I wonder if Jesus was so scrutinized over the cobbler who made his sandals?!

    But Jesus did wear a seamless garment, and allowed the anointing of his feet with hair. So, decorum is necessary in the Church. But I’m sure this cobbler in Argentina will make these shoes spanking new!

  51. monmir says:

    How about when in Rome do as Romans do? But HH saved money he was calling on Skype.
    A simple life, perhaps a good model for our American Bishops? I doubt it.
    Protocole and dress code exist for a reason.

  52. AnnAsher says:

    Well considering the papacy is perennial and Peter probably wore some manner of sandal or no shoe at all …. I just don’t care what shoes Francis 1 wears. I do think its nice he continues to get shoes for that same shoemaker who has served him for 40 years. I also personally find the red shoes goofy.

  53. pseudomodo says:

    APOLOGIA CONTRA SUTOR VETERAMENTARIUS
    (Against Cobblers)

    We spare no expense
    for sustainability
    so Popes can recycle

    (I compose my prose
    entirely in haiku
    so you don’t have to.)

  54. Eraser says:

    I’m with Giuseppe: I’ve lost objectivity & I adore him too. He may be the supreme pontiff but he’s also a human being. In practically the twinkling of an eye, his life changed forever. If he’s lucky, he’ll be able to visit his beloved hometown once or twice more & even then, he won’t be able to walk down a street & visit his old shoemaker in peace, or do anything he used to do there. Surely he misses his old life more than we can imagine, and if he wants to maintain one connection by sending his shoes back home to be fixed, how can anyone blame him?

    I love Italian shoes so much that I’ve been known to fill my suitcase with them on trips to Italy I’m not rich; you can still buy excellent shoes for almost half of what we’re paying here for Chinese sweatshop-made junk). However, the Argentines are no slouch when it comes to leatherworking & I bet Francis’ shoemaker in BA is as good as any in Rome.

  55. Granny says:

    I was taught… The pope always wore dark red including sandals to signify the blood of Christ. When Pope Pius V wanted to retain his white Dominican robes and so he changed things to white but retained the red hat=crown of thorns, the red cape= blood from the scourging at the pillar, red shoes=the blood that covered the feet of Christ as he struggled to Calvary. The cape, white signified the cares heaped on the shoulders of cardinals, bishops, etc.
    Were the sisters wrong?

  56. Pingback: You Might be A Franciscan If… | Mundabor's Blog

  57. Bea says:

    Mari Kate says:
    19 April 2013 at 1:25 am
    Haven’t you people ever heard of “The Shoes of the Fisherman”?

    Mari Kate that very same thought came to my mind. Ipso Facto
    Saw that movie ages and ages ago (Anthony Quinn)
    The most frightening thought was that he wanted to get rid of the Vatican’s riches to give to the poor.
    Sound familiar?
    I hope Pope Francis realizes these riches belong to posterity, the people of God and the Church itself and that the poor we always have with us.
    Take care of the poor, yes, but not with what is offered to God (Mary Magdalene’s precious oil and Judas’ comments come to mind)

  58. Daniel says:

    It seems less than a month ago that it was said, in what seemed to be an explanation of why he was not wearing the red shoes, that he was given new shoes as a gift just prior to leaving for Rome due to the sad shape of his old shoes. I am curious, though only slightly, if this story means his new shoes are already in need of repair or if he has not been comfortable in his new shoes and is therefore getting his older shoes fixed.

  59. Joan A. says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda:

    “A physician’s salary”?!? “Donate time to a free clinic”?!?

    I guess you’re not in the USA or have not heard of Obamacare. Phycisians are leaving the profession by the hundreds, retiring early, 3 clinics have closed already in my area, medical school enrollments are dropping, your salary will be much lower than you apparently expect, and if you most certainly will be working in a free GOVT clinic, and liking it! Welcome to totalitarianism, Doctor.

  60. ghp95134 says:

    Simon_GNR sez: …So, Senor Samaria can now have a sign put up outide his shop front with the wording “Cobblers to the Pope”!!

    Shoemaker! Puh~lease!~!! My great-great grandfather was a shoe & boot maker — it chaffed him to no end to be called a cobbler. Cobblers repair shoes, but do not have the training to make shoes.

    –Guy

  61. Kathleen10 says:

    I will file this under “things I know nothing about, but suspect there are more aspects than simply footwear”.

  62. techno_aesthete says:

    A couple of things to consider:

    1) Before being elected Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger had lived in Rome for decades and had developed relationships with shops in his neighborhood. So, when he became Pope, it was easier for him to retain certain tailors, shoemakers, etc.

    2) Just as Pope Francis’ family had moved to Argentina from Italy, it is reasonable to think that the family of the shoemaker also moved from Italy to Argentina. Or to put it another way, many Italians emigrated to Argentina. Some of them were probably shoemakers, no?

  63. Rouxfus says:

    This story seems to me to be in line with the Holy Father’s way of dealing with everyone. He seems to value human relationships built on openness, lack of affect, and sincerity. He seems to delight in the simple everyday transactions of love between humans engaged in the duties of their ordinary lives. Rather than going to a department store and buying a pair of shoes from an impersonal shoe factory, he develops a warm relationship with the man who crafts his shoes from cow hide and steel. He supports this man’s ability to live by giving him his custom, and develops a trust that this man knows his feet, probably has wooden models of his feet hanging on the wall of the shop. He likes this man and enjoys the transactions of business with him over many years. When he visits the man who makes his shoes, he uses no honorifics – though he is a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is Bergoglio with the bunions, and of course when he needs new shoes or old ones repaired, he will call his friend, the man who makes and repairs his shoes, as a matter of efficiency. It would take months to develop the same relationship of mutual understanding and care with a Roman shoe maker, and the Holy Father is one who must have shoes that work for him to do his duty as Pope. So it seems only practical, for now, to rely on the man he knows and trusts in Argentina. And it is only natural for him to wish to indulge in the pleasure of speaking to his friend when the occasion arises when there is a matter of business to discuss.

    After his election, another story arose of His Holiness ringing Buenos Aires to cancel his newspaper delivery. The secular press reported that he called the newspaper himself, and wasn’t that cute. But the real story is that he didn’t call the newspaper. He called the man who owned the news stand on the corner of his block near his apartment, who delivered the morning paper every day to his apartment. Here again, the Cardinal had developed an essential relationship with another person on whom he depended for his news, a relationship of daily trust building and reliability over years. One treasures such relationships. And so, out of respect for that relationship, and perhaps to give his old friend a thrill and an honor, the Holy Father rings him up to let him know that he would not need further delivery. Or perhaps the instruction was more complicated. Perhaps he instructed the news man to find the hidden key to the apartment in a certain place, and to bring the morning paper into the apartment to the disabled priest roomate of the Cardinal who could not get up to fetch the paper at the doorstep any longer?

    We see the same man in Fr. Z’s story of meeting this ordinary priest in the refectory at the clergy-residence in Rome, and striking up ordinary conversations with this man for a period of several days before ever learning or realizing the man is a Cardinal of the Church. He is totally unaffected, unassuming, and does not want the honorifics which have been bestowed on him to become a barrier in having a relationship with those he meets. He seems to value an honest relationship with other human beings on par with them, with no pretense. He has this relationship with his brother priests in the refectory at the residence, and he has the same unaffected relationship with the people at the desk of the residence after so many years of visits to Rome, staying in the same place. It makes it much more understandable that he would want to pay his respects and his bill to these people one last time, people he had come to know, and to entrust his care while staying in Rome. He values these simple human relationships highly, it seems to me.

    And I think this is in accord with his apparent theology, which seems aptly centered on the simple human relatioship he has with Our Lord, and which he has encouraged us all to develop for ourselves. It all runs together in a coherent picture of a man who seems to live his life as the Church proposes, and which Pope John Paul II of blessed memory articulated so well, in regard to the dignity of the human person. Pope Francis seems to live this life not as an intellectual exercise, but as a sincerely personal one.

    I saw on Facebook a mashup series of pictures showing JPII, BXVI and F with the respective captions “This is what we believe,” “This is why we believe it,” and finally, “Now, go live it.” He seems, from what I gather so far, to be living it, and people seem to appreciate that.

  64. Simon_GNR says:

    ghp95134 -

    Guy,

    I take the point, but I understood from the original post that Snr Samaria repairs shoes as well as making them, so he does do the work of a cobbler at least some of the time. Besides, the joke doesn’t work very well with “shoemaker” instead of “cobblers”! It was too good an opportunity to miss to bring out that old chestnut, which I borrowed from the old British comedy film “Carry On Henry”!!

    Simon

  65. Katylamb says:

    “The most frightening thought was that he wanted to get rid of the Vatican’s riches to give to the poor.
    Sound familiar?”

    No Bea, it does not sound familiar except in somebody’s fantasies. Do you have evidence that Pope Francis has even HINTED that he would like “get rid of the Vatican’s riches to give to the poor?” If so, please do present it so we can all see it.
    Evidence does exist that that is not his style though. For he didn’t do that in his cathedral “back home.”

  66. Katylamb says:

    In the movie, The Shoes of the Fisherman, the pope acted as he did for political reasons. He wanted to prevent a nuclear war and decided that using the wealth of the Church was the way to do it. What a stupid idea!
    I have seen no evidence that Pope Francis has any such worries. He seems much more spiritual than that. From his words, he seems all about individuals personally encountering Jesus and living their lives for Christ. not about useless political stunts.
    The treasures of the Church belong to the Church, not to the pope alone. To insinuate that he might steal and sell them on the basis of a make believe character’s actions is silly- as was that movie, in my opinion.