St. Francis image from
I have just finished reading the splendid essay by Alexander Stille in the New Yorker, "Holy Orders: A determined Pope Francis moves to reform a recalcitrant Curia."
The piece mentions the lifestyle of some Vatican-based bishops - Excerpts:
Just outside the Vatican walls, in Piazza della Città Leonina, there is another apartment building filled with cardinals. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Benedict’s successor as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, lives in the apartment occupied by Benedict when he was merely Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and above him is Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. ...
There has been an ongoing dispute—now, apparently, resolved—over the noise level in the building: Baldisseri, an accomplished pianist, likes to practice after lunch, when Müller takes a nap. ...
When he [Cardinal Bertone] celebrated his eightieth birthday, stories appeared about the extravagant party and the fine food and wines that were served. ...
Bertone’s apartment seems more fitting for a former head of state than for a priest. He told me that he had the apartment renovated at his own expense and that he shares the space with his personal secretary and three nuns. ...
I thought of this ever-changing, never-changing Church as I visited an elderly cardinal in his palatial apartment near the Vatican. When I rang the doorbell, I was greeted by an unprepossessing man in his early eighties. In the entryway, there was a life-size, full-length portrait of him. Then I noticed another large painted portrait of him a few feet away.
He led me into the living room, where there were at least seven other portraits of him, a few of them large, life-size paintings. The main corridor was lined with photographs of the many world leaders the cardinal had met, some including him, others signed and dedicated to him. [End excerpts from article]
Meanwhile, in (arguably) the spirit of St. Francis, the current pope has pleaded to Europeans that they open the doors of their parishes to Syrian refugees [excerpt from another article]:
Pope Francis has called on every European parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family, as thousands of people from war-torn countries continued to stream into Germany via Austria.
The pope said on Sunday the Vatican would open its doors to two refugee families, but provided few details as he addressed tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square. [See also.]
A MODEST PROPOSAL, in anticipation of the Pope's visit to the USA: Perhaps "details," if any, could be provided by the Vatican regarding the accessibility of the above-cited bishops' residences to Syrian/other refugees.
Full disclosure: As an college undergraduate, I wrote a pompous paper on "The Role of the Body in Franciscan Theology." What St. Francis had to say on what I referred to as "our sinful envelope" was not complimentary.