Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis, A Humble Man of God

Pope Francis bowing down after asking the people
to ask God to bless him
The 267th successor to St. Peter has been elected.  I wish to use this post to publicly pledge my complete support and obedience to His Holiness, Pope Francis.

I really know very little about our new Holy Father save for what I have learned since he was elected earlier today.  I was very impressed when he came out onto the balcony to greet the people.  His humility and gentleness were so evident, especially when he bowed after asking the people to pray that God bless him.  Here is the text of his remarks from Catholic News Service:

He starts out by humbly calling himself the bishop of Rome:
Brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that the task of the conclave was to give Rome a bishop. It seems my brother cardinals went almost to the ends of the earth to find one.
I thank you for your welcome.
The diocesan community of Rome has its bishop. Thank you.
He then shifted the attention to His Holiness, Benedict XVI, calling him "bishop emeritus" as opposed to  "pope emeritus".  He led the people in prayer for his predecessor.  I was especially impressed that He called on both our Lord and Our Lord's Mother:
First of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our bishop emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him that the Lord bless him and that the Mother of God protect him. "Our Father who art in heaven. ... Hail Mary, full of grace. ... Glory be to the Father ... ."
Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
He then made a statement about the "journey of the Church of Rome, which is the one that presides in charity over all the churches." I thought this was a beautiful way of saying that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ, but we shouldn't use that fact to hit people over the head and tell them they are wrong. Instead, we should reach out to others in love. I believe Pope Francis is telling us that this will be a hallmark of his papacy: brotherhood, love and trust.
Now let's begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the church of Rome, which is the one that presides in charity over all the churches -- a journey of brotherhood, love and trust among us. Let us pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there be a great brotherhood. I hope this journey of the church that we begin today -- and I will be helped by my cardinal vicar, here present -- will be fruitful for the evangelization of this so beautiful city.
He then went on to give the traditional blessing, but first he did something very unusual. He asked the people to first pray that God would bless him. He bowed low while complete silence fell over that vast crowd of people as they prayed for him. It was an amazing moment.
Now I would like to give my blessing. But first, I will ask a favor. Before the bishop blesses his people, he asks that you pray to the Lord to bless me, the prayer of the people for the blessing of their bishop. Let's pray for me in silence."
(He gave his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world)).
Brothers and sisters, I'll leave you. Thank you so much for the welcome. Pray for me. We'll see each other soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray to Mary so she would watch over all of Rome. Good night. Have a good rest.
There can be better way for Pope Francis to start his Pontificate than by spending his first day in prayer to our Blessed Mother. I think when he talks about asking her to "watch over all of Rome", he is speaking about much more than the City of Rome. I believe he is asking Mary to watch over the Church of Rome. He is telling us in a humble and simple way that he is putting the Church in the hands of our Blessed Mother, and there can be no better and no safer place for us to be.

Pope Francis would seem to be a man to whom faithful Catholics could easily pledge their allegiance. Catholic New Service gives us this background:
Pope Francis has had a growing reputation as a very spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership serving in a region with the largest number of the world's Catholics.

Since 1998, he has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people.

He rides the bus, visits the poor, lives in a simple apartment and cooks his own meals. To many in Buenos Aires, he is known simply as "Father Jorge."

He also has created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives and started new pastoral programs, such as a commission for divorcees. He co-presided over the 2001 Synod of Bishops and was elected to the synod council, so he is well-known to the world's bishops.

The pope has also written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.

In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Pope Francis encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could "seriously injure the family."

He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in "depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother."

In 2006, he criticized an Argentine proposal to legalize abortion under certain circumstances as part of a wide-ranging legal reform. He accused the government of lacking respect for the values held by the majority of Argentines and of trying to convince the Catholic Church "to waver in our defense of the dignity of the person."

His role often forced him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for.

While not overtly political, Pope Francis has not tried to hide the political and social impact of the Gospel message, particularly in a country still recovering from a serious economic crisis.

After becoming archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, taken personal care of the seminary and started new pastoral projects, such as the commission for divorcees. He mediated in almost all social or political conflicts in the city; recently ordained priests have been described as "the Bergoglio generation"; and no political or social figure missed requesting a private encounter with him.
Seems like a pretty good resume for the Vicar of Christ, don't you think? Well, there are some who would strongly disagree and sadly, it is those who identify themselves as Traditional Catholics. I quote from one of the most popular blogs among Traditionalists, Rorate Caeli. Their headline is: "The Horror! A Buenos Aires journalist describes Bergoglio."  Their opening paragraph is as follows:
Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and moral seem to have been irrelevant to him.
"Faith and moral seem to have been irrelevant to him"????? The following is from a secular website,
On same-sex marriage: The new pope has called gay marraige “a scheme to destroy God’s plan” and “a real and dire anthropological throwback.” In 2010, he was a vocal opponent of the Argentinian government’s proposed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.
On homosexuality: Bergoglio is reportedly “unwaveringly orthodox” on such moral issues.
On abortion: He has rallied his clergy against the “culture of death” that is the pro-abortion movement.
On contraceptives: The new pope strongly opposed Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner‘s efforts to distribute free contraceptives, likely seeing it as part of the aforementioned “culture of death.”
On same-sex adoption: Bergoglio has called it a form of discrimination against children
As I have stated many times here, I do consider myself a Traditional Catholic. I love the Latin Mass and all things traditionally Catholic. But I cannot hold with those who in any way judge and condemn the Holy Father, no matter who they are or what they say they believe. I believe and accept with all my heart that the Vicar of Christ is the divinely appointed head of the Mystical Body of Christ here on earth. We have no right to judge him in any way. We are bound as part of Christ's Mystical Body to be unerringly loyal and obedient to the Pope. If we don't have that, we don't have a church.

Rorate Caeli ended their post with these complete falsehoods about Pope Francis:
This election is incomprehensible: he is not a polyglot, he has no Curial experience, he does not shine for his sanctity, he is loose in doctrine and liturgy, he has not fought against abortion or homosexual "marriage"[approved with practically no opposition from the episcopate], he has no manners to honor the Pontifical Throne. He has never fought for anything else than to remain in positions of power.
It really cannot be what Benedict wanted for the Church. And he does not seem to have any of the conditions required to continue his work.
May God help His Church. One can never dismiss, as humanly hard as it may seem, the possibility of a conversion... and, nonetheless, the future terrifies us.
I would hope that all Catholics would completely denounce such false, defamatory statements as these. These statement are truly scandalous.

When a man becomes the Vicar of Christ, his life has in effect ended. That is why he takes a new name, a symbol that he has been transformed. He no longer belongs to himself. He now belongs totally to Jesus Christ and to the Church. He is the "servant of the servants." The Pope carries the Cross of Christ and walks the road of Calvary. It is a crushing burden that can only be lifted by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Even in the best of times, we must pray constantly for the Pope. In times such as we now experience where evil is found even in the Church, we must pray even more.

It is obvious that our new Holy Father will be the object of much persecution. Pope Francis asked us today to pray that God will bless him. Let us pray every day that God will bless him.


1 comment:

  1. Good post. I too was a little surprised at the scandalous post on Rorate, let alone the commenters. Rorate usually shows such a high level of respect and good taste. Not so this time.


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