March 23, 2013

Pope Francis's Beautiful Silence (Stephen L. Carter Mar 14, 2013, Bloomberg)

There were, of course, no Catholics in Latin America until about 500 years ago. We all make mistakes, but in this case, the error is probably explained less by exuberance at the selection of a new pontiff than by the inexorable demand of the medium for gab unceasing.

Contrast the endless and largely pointless chatter of the modern world with the minutes Pope Francis spent standing silently on the balcony before addressing the thousands in St. Peter's Square and the hundreds of millions around the world. The silence was beautiful and eloquent, projecting both a sense of peace and a sense of occasion. An even longer silence followed, when Francis asked the faithful to pray for him -- a silence, evidently, that was mimicked in Catholic households and schools around the world. [...]

Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI, was eloquent on the value of silence: "In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible."

Posted by at March 23, 2013 11:13 PM

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