Vivat Papa Francesco – Thoughts and Link AroundPosted: 15 March 2013
My “pen” has been silent here as I’ve been consumed with other projects, but the election of a new pope seems a good time to return. I’ll try to keep up!
I’m always chagrined when we see a list of “front runners” for Peter’s Chair, because no one really knows. The talking heads are doing their best to fill the air, but the only people who really know who the pope will be is the Holy Spirit and the men who vote (after the new pope is elected, of course). Which is to say…no one knows ahead of time. The man elected has never been “one of the front runners” in my lifetime.
Pope Francis has already set the tone for his papacy in some very a unique ways.
First, he first addressed Romans as their bishop wearing only a white cassock. He didn’t wear the papal stole until he blessed the crowd and the people listening/watching around the world, and he didn’t wear the red cape under the stole. This sends a signal to me that he’s very interested in being a pastor, and says something about his simplicity.
Second, he chose the name “Francis” as his regal name. St Francis is a very popular saint with Christian community at large, including Protestants and some Orthodox. My own Southern Baptist grandmother had a St Francis statue in her garden. The name is, I think, I signal to the world that Pope Francis intends to be simple and committed to preaching the Gospel at all times. I suspect he’ll use words when necessary. I also think it could be a signal that Christian unity will be important to him.
Third, before he gave his first papal blessing, he asked the people of Rome to pray/bless him. He bowed his head and St Peter’s Square was silent for a few moments. Then he put on the papal stole and blessed the people, removing it when he was done. I saw that gesture as sign that he understands the role of the papacy, and will do what’s required of him, but that his first role is to be our “senior pastor.”
Vivat Papa Francesco!
Timothy Morgan at Christianity Today has a fresh take on why non-Catholics should care:
So, what is the benefit of a healthier papacy and Roman Catholic Church?
Both the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict exercised the teaching office in extraordinary ways. They championed the sanctity of life against the culture of abortion and mercy killing. They spoke out against the corrosive effects of secularism. Both convened urgent discussions between Christians and Muslims, and between warring nation-states. They encouraged ongoing theological dialogue between Catholic and Protestant scholars about justification, the authority of the church, and the proper understanding of the Virgin Mary.
Few Christian institutions have the historic scale and scope of the Catholic Church in the arenas of health care, education, and works-of-mercy outreach to the poor. The Catholic Church is the largest health-care provider in the world, managing 26 percent of all health-care facilities. It runs the largest U.S. K–12 private school network, serving more than 2 million students. But scarcer resources mean that needed schools, clinics, and ministries face closure every year. This reality provides Protestants and Catholics a new context for collaboration in mission. We trust the new pope will support such partnerships.
Damien Thompson at the London Telegraph is a bit more subdued about the job Pope Francis has ahead of him:
Alas, cleaning the stables is a more urgent priority than building on Ratzinger’s magnificent liturgical renewal. In many parts of the world, Roman Catholicism has become almost synonymous with sexual abuse and its concealment. The crisis is as bad as it was in 2005, when Benedict was elected, although most of the crimes are now more distant historical events.
Eliza Shapiro at The Daily Beast has the typical secular plain vanilla response.
Lisa Hendley writes about “being there” 21st century style.
EWTN has comprehensive coverage.
Journalist Michael Dougherty is, apparently, “deeply worried”.
Michael Martinez at CNN says the choice of the name is ‘precedent shattering’.