What does Barry Hillenbrand (Ethiopia 1963-65) Have to Say About Pope Francis?

Barry Hillenbrand (Ethiopia 1963-65) (Jesuit trained so he knows what he is talking about ) and who after the Peace Corps went on to be a correspondent of TIME magazine for more than 30 years serving most of those years as a foreign correspondent, including three years as South American Bureau Chief based in Rio de Janeiro and covering the early years of the Dirty War in Argentina sent me this email based on the recent blog about our new Pope. Here’s what Saint Barry had to say. (By the way, his wife would never call him a saint.)

Sigh.  First of all any archbishop who holds up a football banner while decked out in his miter has to be partly alright, but this cozy laddie-ness will no doubt be added to all those other overly charming traits that Donna Gebera finds so suspicious.

I suspect that part of D. Gebera’s problem is that the Latin American press no doubt went wild with enthusiasm in the wake of Francis’ election, but as she herself noted it was not long before papers like  O Estado de São Paulo, owned by a rare non-Catholic Brazilian family, I believe, began looking more deeply into Francis’ past and throwing a bit of cold water on the heat.

Unquestionably beatifying Francis on his second day because he took the bus was a bit much, but that’s what the press does with a good story, run it into the ground. All that is fair enough to complain about.

But the idea that somehow Francis’ election is the result of a cabal of Northerners wishing  to toss a bone to the South while still retaining all power is, well, so marvelously of America do Sol. Come on, give the guy a chance. There was not much of a chance of finding a real liberal and reformer  among  those 115 guys appointed by the last two conservative popes. That would be asking far too much even of the power of the Holy Spirit.


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  • Amen, as Barry says -just give the guy a chance. He has time on his side to drop in the polls ,like Barry Obama.

  • As someone who has only attended one service at St. Patrick’s in NYC (to see the show as my grandmother advised) when I was ten years old I’m totally unqualified to speak on this topic.

    However, if anyone would like to know more about Boja (the Thunder God of the Gurage people) I would be happy to provide my observations and photos.

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