The Pope and My Mother
I was surprised yesterday to receive a phone call from my very excited mother. She was thrilled to tears that ‘we’ had a new pope from Argentina. I could almost see her 82 year old self jumping up and down for joy. I, however, was a bit taken aback. We are Jewish.
But we were both born in Argentina – and it seemed that regardless of religious affiliation or belief, regardless of the fact that Argentina protected Nazi perpetrators of genocide, my mother was caught up in the field of nationalistic pride. I would have thought that the millennial experience of diasporic Judaism would trump one generation of being Argentine, when I saw the images of people all over the world celebrating this Argentine cardinal turned Pope, I began to have other inklings.
Jung, in Modern Man in Search of a Soul, speaks to the powerful force of the unconscious to compensate for the one-sidedness of the time or epoch. He says:
And epoch is like an individual, it has its own limitations of conscious outlook, and therefore requires a compensatory adjustment. This is effected by the collective unconscious in that a poet, a seer or a leader allows himself to be guided by the unexpressed desire of his times and shows the way, by work or deed, to the attainment of what which everyone blindly craves and expects –whether this attainment results in good or evil, the healing of an epoch or its destruction. (166).
So perhaps my mother was actually expressing something a bit deeper than nationalistic pride, she may have been possessed by the possibility of a change in the collective itself. Dr. Conforti, in his blog radio program, spoke about Jung’s excitement when the Virgin Mary was taken into heaven. Jung saw that as the elevating of the previously repressed feminine into the Church.
We may be entering a new phase of psychic balance in the world, or at the very least, it is clear that Psyche is doing her damnest to bring us into equilibrium. While the Church will continue to espouse dogma that keeps it in line with patriarchal rules and regulations, it is clear that here is a man who is very closely aligned to the feminine values of relationality, care and nurture of the oppressed, who admonishes priests for not baptizing babies born out of wedlock.
His life, as we know it for the moment, is a testament to living close to the earth, to matter, to the Mother, whose ego stance seems to be aligned to service to the highest values expressed in the gospel and not to ostentation and external expressions of power.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to resist the forces of the Church which will seek to constrain him to ‘live’ into the proper role for the Pope, a role shaped by two millennia. Will his humility be deep enough and his ego strong enough to carry the function of God/dess without being annihilated by the projections of the curia? I don’t know, but I will be praying for him and for all of us. After all, he is an Argentine.
Jung, Carl G. (1993). Modern Man in Search of a Soul. San Diego: Harvest.
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Dr. Silvia Behrend is a Certified Pattern Analyst, educator and mentor