So we have a new Pope, Francis I, f/k/a Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Latin American Pope and (IMO more significant) the first Jesuit. As the title to this blog indicates, (in Latin) this is a new beginning for the Catholic Church and certainly for the Holy Father.
I was able to watch the announcement that a Pope had been decided and the plumes of white smoke. Then there was the waiting for the proclamation of who the Pope was. The protodeacon Cardinal, Jean Louis Tauran, stated: " [n]untio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam. Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum Jorge Mario sanctae romanae ecclesiae cardinalem Bergoglio, qui sibi nomen imposuit Francescus."
We have all been drinking from the fire hose of news about the new Pope. Already, we know he takes public transportation (well, not any more) is not wildly popular with the Argentine government, was a contender in the last Papal conclave, is opposed to abortion and gay marriage and is considered humble. His first words to the crowd in St. Peter's Square were, "Pray for me." He also asked for a moment of silent prayer.
It will be interesting to see what path Francis I will take for the Church and himself. I am no expert in church dogma but I think it is safe to say that he will hold true to the basic tenants of the Catholic Church. After all, he was elected by at least 77 Cardinals who are about as traditional as they come. I also believe that he is someone who sincerely believes in the path of the Church and is humbled to lead it.
I think the deeper and much harder question is how will Francis I lead in his own way by staying true in his own way to the teachings of the Church. By all accounts, he is a humble man. At a time when the Catholic Church has been reeling from injuries (some self-inflicted) and is criticized for arrogance, a humble leader may be just what the Church needs to bring forth healing and greater understanding.
I have heard speculation about his choosing the name Francis. What first came to mind is St. Francis of Assisi. He was a spoiled kid who after a stint in the military rejected worldly pleasures and served God. The St Francis of Assisi prayer is as follows:
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
A wonderful prayer and even if you are not religious, there are many positive things in it. If it was this Saint who was the motivation for his name, a fine choice. However, there is also some talk that the name was chosen for St. Francis Xavier. He was a Spanish priest who was one of the founding members the Society of Jesus that better became known as the Jesuits. Please see the photo below. This is the order of the new Pope. As I mentioned above, I think this is an important insight to why he was selected. Jesuits are known for their work with the poor. St. Francis Xavier took vows of both poverty and chastity in 1534. In 1540, Rome adapted both of these practices. Interesting that this Pope, this new Pope has a connection to this Saint.
I like I presume anyone reading this post, wishes the Holy Father well on his selection. Shortly, he will lead the faithful in the celebration of Easter. As my good friend Bill mused, this was part of Pope Benedict XVI plan- a new Pope for the season of ultimate renewal of the Church. I think Francis I will take his stewardship of the Catholic Church very seriously and with humility. That may not be enough to fix all the issues, but it is probably the best place to start.
Deus te benedicat
For the pictures used in this post, I claim either fair use and/or public domain, thanks.