The knives are out already for the new Pope. The Vatican is having none of it.
Viva il Papa!
The knives are out already for the new Pope. The Vatican is having none of it.
Viva il Papa!
The text of the Holy Father’s address to the cardinals this morning is available. And it is charming. It is a simple speech in its vocabulary and construction, yet it seems pregnant with signals as to the way his petrine ministry will proceed.
Many of us have been struck by Pope Francis’ apparent desire to be his own man. His name, so novel yet so Catholic, is the strongest sign of that. He is not to be seen as a disciple of John Paul II, or Paul VI, or John XXIII, or Leo XIII, or even Benedict XVI. In fact, it seems he is not even to be labelled as a disciple of St Ignatius, the Jesuit founder. He is Peter with a large dollop of the saint of Assisi. While one cannot rule out that he is including reference to the Jesuit St Francis Xavier in his choice of name, it seems clear enough now that he is very much in the mould of St Francis of Assisi: the simpler dress, the simpler transport, the greeting of people, the encounter with Christ as central.
Neither, however, is he dismissing his predecessor. Far from it. Note first this lovely passage from this morning:
I extend an especially affectionate thought, filled with gratitude, to my venerable predecessor, Benedict XVI, who, during the years of his pontificate enriched and invigorated the Church with his teaching, his goodness, guidance, faith, humility, and his meekness, which will remain the spiritual patrimony of all. The Petrine ministry, lived with total dedication, found in him a wise and humble interpreter with his gaze always fixed on Christ, the Risen Christ, present and alive in the Eucharist. Our fervent prayer will always accompany him, our eternal memory, and affectionate gratitude. We feel that Benedict XVI lit a flame in the depth of our hearts, a flame that continues to burn because it will be fanned by his prayers that will continue to sustain the Church on its spiritual and missionary journey.
It is a fulsome and touching tribute. But are there some real hints here for us to note? The emphasis on the Petrine ministry – he is to be Peter first. His gaze fixed on Christ – the centrality of the personal encounter with Christ that Benedict XVI emphasized so strongly. Christ present and alive in the Eucharist – is this that start of a focus by him on the liturgy? The flame lit by Benedict in our hearts, and fanned by Benedict’s continued prayers – he seems to confirm Benedict’s future hidden life, but also his continued influence on the Church. Time will tell.
Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil tempts us with every day. Let us not give into pessimism and let us not be discouraged. We have the certainty that the Holy Spirit gives His Church, with His powerful breath, the courage to persevere, the courage to persevere and to search for new ways to evangelise, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Christian truth is attractive and convincing because it responds to the deep need of human existence, announcing in a convincing way that Christ is the one Saviour of the whole of man and of all men. This announcement is as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity when the Church worked for the great missionary expansion of the Gospel.
Again Pope Francis mentions the Devil. This is what hampered Benedict the teacher – the constant obstruction of his divine mission by the demonic forces within and without the human fabric of the Church. Pope Francis seems intent on being a spiritual warrior, an exorcist. And here too he signals a commitment to the New Evangelization, an evangelization not only of the weaker members of the Church, but the whole world. He wants to make disciples of all nations. Coupled with his intention to confront the Devil at every turn, this missionary enterprise looks set to be in the classic Catholic mould: conversions and baptisms, not only the social service that has dominated modern missionary work. With wheaten bread must come also the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven.
Dear Brothers, have courage! Half of us are old: I like to think of old age as the seat of wisdom in life. Old people have wisdom because they know they have journeyed through life – like the aged Simeon and Anna in the Temple. It was that wisdom that allowed them to recognise Jesus. We must give this wisdom to young people: like good wine that improves with age, let us give young people this life’s wisdom. I’m reminded of what a German poet said about aging: “Es ist ruhig, das Alter, und fromm” – “age is the time of peace and prayer”. We need to give young people this wisdom.
He is not afraid to be old even in the midst of an ever more vigorously youthful Church. Age carries experience, and experience reflected and prayed upon brings wisdom. He has this to share, as had Benedict. It will be good wine, the vintage of the Lord.
I commit my ministry, and your ministry, to the powerful intercession of Mary, our Mother, Mother of the Church. Beneath her maternal gaze, may each one of us walk and listen to the voice of her divine Son, strengthening unity, persevering together in prayer and giving witness to the true faith in the continual presence of the Lord.
He emphasizes Mary yet again, an emphasis seen both in word and in action these last two days.
Pope Francis might not be the pope I was hoping for, but he seems like the pope we all need.
And still no mention of Vatican II…
Slowly we can begin to notice little things about Pope Francis as we scrutinize and reflect. They may mean nothing or everything… or something in between! :-p
Schütz, over at Sentire cum Ecclesia, noted that in his first address to the people as pope, Francis did not use the word “pope” once, but he referred to himself as Bishop of the Church of Rome nine times. His article should be read for the context surrounding his observation. But the thrust of it is that Francis sees himself, so it would seem, primarily as Bishop of Rome. Of course he also made the point of saying that the Church of Rome presides in charity over all the churches.
Significant? It may well be. We must remember that in Argentina as archbishop of Buenos Aires Francis acted as ordinary for eastern-rite Catholics. Apart form suggesting that he may have more liturgical nous than the average Jesuit ( no offence boys), it suggest also that he has a strong awareness of the eastern Churches, and that this will colour his ecumenical approach. It was noted in posts here in the last couple of weeks that the Russian and Greek patriarchs felt that immense progress had been made in Benedict XVI’s pontificate, and hoped that this legacy would not be squandered. Perhaps Francis is precisely the man, with his eastern-rite experience, to further this ecumenical project. He is telling them he will not be the monarchical potentate of Orthodox nightmares, but preside in charity, first among equals, which is an understanding already established in Orthodox ecclesiology.
Schütz puts his own context as that of an ecclesiology fleshed out by a Lutheran friend of his, namely that the Church does not consist of churches, but in churches. In light of Vatican II we might say that the Roman Catholic Church is not the sum total of the true Church, but that the true Church, the Body of Christ, is en-limbed (to coin an ugly but useful word) in the various Churches that acknowledge the primacy of Peter and are in communion with his Successor. If this primacy could be clarified as primarily theological rather than of active governance, the Orthodox might be ready to resume communion. Indeed, the Orthodox would accept the Pope as court of final appeal with similarly relative ease. There is the filioque to consider, but that has been lived with before, and maybe it can be lived with again.
Today Pope Francis went to Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four papal basilicas of Rome, where he paid homage to Our Lady Salus populi Romani, or “Protectress of the Roman People”. Again, this emphasis on his being primarily Bishop of Rome.
But he also went to pray at the shrine of Pope St Pius V, revered by traditionalists as the pope who definitively established the so-called Tridentine Mass, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to be more precise. Was this a signal to liturgical traditionalists not to fear?
Pope St Pius V was a Dominican. Traditionally the Jesuits and Dominicans have been rivals in many fields, and occasionally a little dismissive of each other, to put it mildly. Is this Jesuit pope signalling a little intra-ecclesial ecumenism!? Probably not, but it is fun to think on it a little.
Pope Francis’ style continues in the vein in which he has begun. He went to Santa Maria Maggiore not in his papal limousine but in an ordinary Vatican police car! He entered the basilica by the side door. Some may be discomfited at his apparent refusal to assume the full stature (thus far) of the Roman Pontiff. But it can be argued that the spiritual power of the Pope, the power of the keys, does not need any worldly bolstering. In fact, it might be argued, the Petrine power is best shown in fidelity to Christ as Servant of the Servants of God. The pomp of the papacy might then be more a moral pomp and grandeur, a splendour found in papal doctrine and upholding of the truth.
But I may be wrong. For now, we must watch our new pope and pray for him.
Driving back from hearing confessions at Farleigh School – great kids by the way – a news item came on referring to “Pope Francis”. It jarred, and my first reaction, for a split-second, was to wonder what the hell they were tlaking about. Pope Francis is going to take some getting used to.
Some are already having a hard time of it. On a traditionalist blog – no link but its initials are RC – commenters are going into hypermode over the new pope. For so many of them it seems the world is effectively coming to an end.
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. …
Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.His entourage in the Buenos Aires Curia, with the exception of a few clerics, has not been characterized by the virtue of their actions. Several are under grave suspicion of moral misbehavior. …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 and only very weakly against 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. …
You guys can try to spin this all you want, Cardinal Bergoglio is a devout Vatican II modernist. He is as “traditional” and as “conservative” as Christoph Schonborn! Yeah, people change, but Bergoglio will have to be totally implanted with another ideological intellect by the Holy Ghost for him to change. I pray for that miracle, but I won’t hold my breath. Bergoglio is a product of the Vatican II rot which has permeated the Church of Christ for fifty years. Remember, he was elected by two thirds of the current college of Cardinals. Scary! …
I’m terrified, frankly. A flagrantly Modernist Pope again… it might as well have been Card. Schoenborn! …
Well, I said I would suspend my judgment until he acts, but boy it’s harder to do than I thought it would be, especially in this case. This looks like a win for the bureaucrats and progressives. Cardinal Rode, Meisner and Pell looked downright somber. If Sandri becomes Secretary of State, that tells us everything we need to know.
The hysteria is palpable at times. The main article is stunning for its libels, offered without a shred of evidence. In fact as Cardinal Bergoglio Pope Francis was considered to be doctrinally very orthodox, and notoriously intolerant of liberation theology. He speaks several languages (he studied in Germany for goodness’ sake!), his simplicity of life point at the least to a practical attempt at sanctity, and he wrote a strident letter that even the blog itself felt obliged to post given its condemnation of same-sex ‘marriage’. The letter is to the Carmelites of his dicoese, asking their prayers and sacrifices in his campaign against the legislation to legalize this form of ‘marriage’. He spoke of it thus:
Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a “move” of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.
I think his opinion is clear, and it is hardly at odds with the Catholic Faith.
Indeed, no doubt a similar hysteria will soon emerge from the Catholic ‘left’ as they realise that this man committed to social justice might well also be committed just as strongly to the truths of the Faith. Then we can expect to hear that he is too old, unable to cope with Vatican being such an outsider to the Curia, at odds with his fellow Jesuits who see him as rigid, and perhaps some will even try to tarnish him with some sort of association with the Argentine regime in the days of the junta.
But spare a small trace of sympathy, of thy charity, for Paul Collins, who was acting as expert commentator for ABC Australia’s coverage of the announcement of the new pope. Paul Collins is a priest who stormed out of the ministry in protest at the Vatican’s investigation of his seriously flawed (to put it mildly) book, Papal Power. He has been a constant critic of Catholic teaching and Pope Benedict in particular. He now makes a lot of money as a celebrity ex-priest, called in for such roles as “expert” for the ABC coverage. So listen to his “expert” commentary below (thanks to a friend for passing this on to me). It is a “FAIL” on a monumental scale. I can only hope the taxpayer-funded ABC got back the fee it paid him. I seem not to be able to embed the video so please click the link below. How the mighty fall!
Viva Papa Francesco!
Things are beginning to sink in all round. Pope Francis is a man who defies a neat single labelling.
So far in a quick web survey there emerges that in Buenos Aires he took a strong moral line on such matters as same-sex ‘marriage’, to the manifest annoyance of the Presidentrix of Argentina. He is theologically “conservative” but strong on “social justice” (and as Dr Shaw rightly asks, why the “but”?!). He scaled down the episcopal style of life in Buenos Aires, living in a small flat, taking public transport to work and often cooking for himself. He is said to have refused several offers of curial posts, avoiding coming to Rome unless he had to.
Jesuits are notoriously un-liturgical. Many are suggesting that either he will place a low priority on liturgical matters, leaving things be, or he will positively dismantle the restoration of tradition.On traditionalist blogs some are going hyper about Cardinal Bergogolio’s alleged non-implementation of Summorum Pontificum and his hostility to tradition, yet it seems he allowed the old rite Institute of the Good Shepherd to open a house in his diocese. IN Argentina he had oversight for eastern rite Catholics, which suggest that he is familiar with the eastern liturgies.
I suspect his Jesuit simplicity will indeed see him adopt a simpler papal style, and that he will be vigorous in stamping his authority on the Curia. But for all the mainstream media’s wishcraft that he will simplify the Church by reducing its pomp and grandeur (this on the BBC) and opt for the poor and marginalized, this may be true to a degree, but they may find that he administers a dose of noble Roman simplicity that is far too strong for liberals and progressives. Simplicity for him may well mean, “Do as you’re told and don’t argue”, “Do it my way or no way”, “You are either for me or against me”, “It’s either yes or no, not maybe”. Simplicity can be very direct indeed.
Francis – is it Assisi or Xavier? Maybe it is both – Assisi appeals to all Italians, and certainly chimes with his hitherto simplicity of life; Xavier is a nod to his Jesuit order and to the role of evangelization in the Church.
Rocco Palmo provides a good ad hoc translation of Pope Francis’ first address and it has some interesting moments. Some snippets:
And before anything else, I’d like for us to pray for our bishop-emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady keep him in her care….
Note his graciousness to Benedict, and his use of Bishop Emeritus, not Pope Emeritus. Very promising – Pope Emeritus jars immensely!
And now, together, let us start this road: bishop and people. This [new] path of the church of Rome, which “presides in charity” [over] all the churches. A path of brotherhood, of love, of trust between us. Let us pray always for ourselves: one for the other. Let us pray for all the world, that we all might know a great fraternity. I wish you that this journey as Church, that we begin today and on which my Cardinal-Vicar [of Rome] will help me, might be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city!
Fascinating – he confirms that Rome “‘presides in charity’ [over] all the churches”. What might this mean for his approach to ecumenism? Charity suggests that he will approach the other churches with humility and peace; presiding suggests that he will not shrink from the Petrine primacy one iota. And he plans to bear fruit in evangelizing the city of Rome! Evangelization, very Pope Benedict, very missionary, very St Francis Xavier.
And now I’ll give you my blessing… but first – first, I ask you this favor: before the bishop blesses his people, I ask that you pray to the Lord that he might bless me: the prayer of the people, seeking God’s blessing for their bishop. In silence, let’s please make a prayer for me….
Some are saying that he asked the people to bless him, and horrified they were too! But it seems that Pope Francis asked the people to pray for him that he might be blessed, which is another thing entirely. A bishop asking for prayers sounds mighty healthy to me. And so what if a pope bows to his people: it adds a little more substance to the last of the papal titles, Servant of the Servants of God. Recently I have been asserting that the media presentation of the Vatican Council, and the Council’s reception in some parts of the Church, was marked by a hermeneutic of power, especially with regard to lay activity in the Church, as was evidenced in the reaction to the Bishop of Portsmouth’s restructuring plans. Its antitdote is the hermeneutic of service, and it seems that Pope Francis will be happy to adopt that hermeneutic himself.
Our internet is near dead so I am using a phone to blog. Strange it feels.
I have also been busy instructing a confirmand so this is yet to sink in.
What strikes me? A Jesuit pope. It is unprecedented especially given the folklore precluding a Jesuit pope.
He is 76, only a year younger than Benedict at his election. Youth has not appealed. What does this reveal of the cardinals’ thinking? A short term pope? So was John XXIII!
Francis? Surely after Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary and ideal saint for the New Evangelization. By choosing a new name is he signalling he is to be his own man?
He is non-curial, and Jesuits are adept at confronting the Curia. Reform is in the air.
He is Argentine. Expect that country to harp even more on the Falklands.
Viva il papa!
More when I can use a real keyboard!
No doubt I was not alone watching a live feed of the opening rites of the conclave. Was I alone in my impressions?
As each Eminence took the oath, there was something profoundly moving to see each one make his promise to God, and before the face of the whole Church. The live feed enabled Christians in every land to watch in real time this solemn process. The new media have allowed us to be, if not present at, then present to the cardinals as they enter conclave. It was a truly international moment.
This internationality was fostered by the use of Latin. How confusing would it have been to have each cardinal use his native tongue? Since the oath is in effect a public event, witnessed by the Church, how could we have known each man had made the correct oath in his language? During the proceedings, how would the precedence among the languages have been decided without someone feeling slighted on behalf of his conlinguists? No, if ever there was a powerful argument for Latin as a language for the international Church, this was certainly one. An element of charm was added by the different accents and pronunciations: the francophones rendering tango as “tongo”, or the germanophones using a hard “g” in evangelium, for example.
The broadcast revealed a wonderful mixture of the old and the new, technology and ancient ritual, the timeless present in this time. Such is the Church.
Anyway, Eminences. God bless you and guide you. We’re watching… and waiting…