Hierarchical formulations died because their wedding cake levels posited a multiply fractured cosmos that does not match the Space Age revelation of a unified universe in which the earth is clearly in, rather than separated from, the heavens. Hierarchical representations do not reflect what either the world or we are like.
Francis seems familiar because Catholics have already known him in the Vatican II priests who have been their pastors and sacramental ministers over the years since that council brought new life to an old church. Catholics have known him in the bishops and priests who brought the spirit of the council to their dioceses and parishes.
The mystery of being human and, certainly, of being a Catholic lies in our embracing together the imperfect state known as the human condition. First and foremost, if we could ever be perfect or do things perfectly, we would eliminate mystery, an essential ingredient in the good life and the spiritual life.
In April, God speaks to us in the seas whose rhythmic murmuring fills our ears from a long way off. It was in April that the Titanic went down into the deep to lie like a slasher's victim, bleeding the 'debris field' - its passengers' personal possessions, the everyday things of everyman and everywoman - across the ocean's floor.
There would be no need for love if perfection were possible. Love arises from our imperfection, from our being different and always in need of the forgiveness, encouragement and that missing half of ourselves that we are searching for, as the Greek myth tells us, in order to complete ourselves.