With so much activity this past week, I didn’t have the chance to post anything about the new Pope, Francis I.
I have to admit that I’ve been really impressed with this man, an unlikely candidate going into the conclave. The old saying, “the cardinal who goes into the conclave a pope always comes out a cardinal” was proven true once again. As I sat taking it all in, I remembered something my men’s group was talking about last Sunday. “Our God is a God of surprises.” How true.The election of this humble man from Argentina was a big surprise to just about everyone. One of the biggest surprises of all was that he chose to be known as Pope Francis. In the history of the papacy, no one had ever chosen to share the name of the great Saint Francis of Assisi. What message was he trying to send? We got our answer today, in the first major audience of his papacy. Here’s what he said this morning,
“Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [OFM]: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two-thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes. I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and with cordial good wishes for you and your families, each of your families. I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.”
I think I’m going to like our new pope very much. His simplicity and humble nature seems like a breath of fresh air. I have a sense many, many good things are on their way.