The Supreme Pastor

Some years ago I heard a lecture by Father Hans Küng at Vanderbilt University. In the late 70s the priest, who taught at the University of Tübingen in Germany, was in serious trouble with the Vatican because of his writings about the Pope. He spoke against papal infallibility and the trappings of royalty that often accompanied the papacy.. Over the years I have read several of his books and find him to be a thoughtful scholar with a pastor’s heart that demanded the same of the so-called princes of the Church.

This week we witnessed what Father Küng often referred to as the Supreme Pastor. Pope Francis took America by love. I was so impressed by his gestures of love and tenderness toward the poor, the week, the young, and the old. He posed a security nightmare because he just wanted to be in the midst of the crowds touching people. I was especially moved by his short talk to the staff of the United Nations. As he closed, he said, “If you are a believer, please pray for me.” He also said, “If you are not a believer, please wish me well.”

His presence made me think about what kind of pastor I want to be – and what I should expect of the leadership of my country that calls itself Christian. I think that all of us have been challenged this week!