Pope Francis is doing things his way — and he's not looking to pander to the elite.
The newly-elected Pope snubbed classical concert-goers on Saturday when he was a last minute no-show. Italian papers ran a photo of a big white empty chair, where Pope Francis was supposed to revel in the glory of being the gala’s guest of honor.
But that’s not how this Pope wants to do things.
Since his election in March, Pope Francis has been underwater trying to straighten out years of controversies that plagued the Pope Benedict administration. Things including, but not limited to: priests’ sexual abuse of children and misuse of Vatican funds. In other words, Pope Francis hopped on to a sinking ship and has been working night and day since to keep it from capsizing — leaving no time for frivolous social outings.
Right before the concert was due to begin, and just as the cardinals and Italian social elites in the audience were growing antsy, an archbishop announced to crowd that the Pope will not be attending due to an "urgent commitment that cannot be postponed.”
"It took us by surprise," said one Vatican source on Monday to Reuters. "We are still in a period of growing pains. He is still learning how to be pope and we are still learning how he wants to do it."
In his few months as Pope, he has not once stayed in the palatial papal apartments, but rather in a more modest Vatican guest house surrounded by other Vatican workers. He also prefers to eat in a communal dining room and say mass every morning in a house chapel, rather than in the private Apostolic Palace papal chapel.
During the concert, the Pope is believed to have been working on appointments to the Curia, which is the Vatican’s central administration plagued with corruption. The outcry from the public is what largely led to Pope Francis’s appointment as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.