Monday, March 18, 2013

What Pope Francis was Doing While You Were Drinking

At the end of last week, after meeting with the Cardinals, rather than ride in the Popemobile, Pope Francis rode in a bus with the Cardinals.

Best line I Read: "I'm sorry, your Holiness, but I think you're in my seat."

On Saturday, the Pope had his first audience with the press. Much as he had at his introduction, his talk was a mixture of kindness and humor.  You can find the whole talk here, courtesy of the Catholic world. 

Two moments in the talk worth drawing your attention to:  
First, the Pope explained why he chose the name Francis. It's pretty remarkable. 
Some people didn't know why the Bishop of Rome wanted to call himself “Francis.” Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, even Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. At the election I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me. He is also prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [O.F.M.]: a dear, dear friend. When things were getting a little 'dangerous', he comforted me. And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the Pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: 'Do not forget the poor.' And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead]; the poor, the poor. Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of war, while the voting continued, until all the votes [were counted]. And so the name came to my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor! 
Even more remarkable, at the end of the talk he didn't give an explicit papal blessing, out of respect for journalists who are not Catholics or not believers.
I told you I wholeheartedly imparted my blessing. Many of you don't belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you.
The man really looks like he's having a good time, doesn't he?
(Maybe we did get Pope Hilarius II after all!)

Yesterday the Pope delivered his first Angelus -- it's the custom every Sunday that the Pope come out and give a short talk and blessing to all those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He used the opportunity to talk about God's mercy. "Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. 'Great is the Lord's mercy', says the Psalm.

And he told a great story at the end. 
I remember when, just after I was made bishop, in 1992, the Madonna of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a large Mass for the sick was celebrated. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. Near the end of the Mass I got up because I had to administer a confirmation. An over 80-year-old woman came up to me, humbly, very humbly. I asked her: “Nonna,” [grandmother]—because that's how we address our elderly—“Nonna, you want to confess?” “Yes,” she told me. “But if you haven't sinned...” And she said to me: “We have all sinned...” “But perhaps the Lord will forgive you...” “The Lord forgives everyone,” she told me, with certainly. “But how do you know that, ma'am?” “If the Lord didn't forgive everyone, the world would not exist.” I wanted to ask her: “Tell me, have you studied at the Gregorian [Pontifical University]?
I'm not sure the last time I heard of a Pope actually telling a story from his own pastoral experience.  Again, dazzling stuff. (He also quoted a book on mercy by Cardinal Walter Kasper, which was intriguing, as Kasper had a number of public conflicts over matters of theology with Pope Benedict.)

Here's the full text (blissfully short). 

And if I haven't blown your mind yet, check this out:

That's correct. After presiding at Mass yesterday, the Pope went outside and greeted parishioners for over 15 minutes.  You know, like parish priests do.

So, in summary: Respect, mercy, humor, welcome.

So far, so good. 


Neville said...

This is great. I'm very hopeful right now. :)

Anonymous said...

As Anne LaMott would say ... WOW!!!! His election is a miracle.

Carol said...

This is perhaps silly, but I noticed, both on the day of his election and at yesterday's Angelus address, HH Francis concluded his talks by telling the people present to "have a good rest" (last Tuesday evening,) and "have a good lunch" (yesterday.) He seems very attuned to the needs of the people, both spiritual and corporal. Much of what he has said this past week has been directed at the needs of people, and I have great hope that his pontificate will demonstrate to people that Christ, working through His church, can fill those needs.

John Kennedy-Farrell said...

He's like the priest that you hope is saying Mass as you are on your way to Church on Sunday. As Susan Ross said, "I'm cautiously NOT pessimistic."

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

Carol, I think that's a great pick-up. He's very attuned to the ordinariness of life.

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

And John, I love it. Exactly.

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