Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Our Franciscan Pope | Pope Francis

Our Holy Father Pope Francis.
Okay, this might seem like an odd title for a blog post on the very night of the election of the first Jesuit Pope ever. You may be thinking, "Fr. Tom thinks Cardinal Sean was elected!"  But, stick with me on this one.

My greatest hopes during this sede vacante were that the Cardinals gathered in Conclave would opt for a change in tone emanating from St. Peter’s; that they might realize that the major issues facing the church aren’t as doctrinal as much as they are image-related in the way that we present that teaching - too often angry; too often exclusionary; too often hurtful to real people with real needs and concerns. 

One of the major reasons that so many Catholics have fled the pews over the last several decades is because too often the Church has been “tone deaf” to the real life situations of the faithful, speaking a theological language that is often difficult to reconcile with the day-to-day realities of modern life.

My hopes for the new Holy Father were for a Pope who smiles, a Pope who can tell a joke, a Pope who is a pastor.  These were among the reasons why I was looking towards Boston Cardinal Séan O’Malley, a Franciscan, as my pick for Pope. 

But, as this humble Jesuit Cardinal from Argentina instead was the man who stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s, I think in so many ways, the same hopes have been fulfilled.  He lives in that same spirit of humility, as we have heard, living in a simple, small apartment; cooking his own meals.  He travels to work by bus. 

Our Holy Father Pope Francis riding the bus to work.
Among his first acts was not the pomp of Roman spectacle, but instead, as hundreds of thousands were gathered in St. Peter’s Square and millions were gathered around the world, he didn’t ask his faithful to bow down, instead he bowed down before them and asked us for our prayers, for our blessings.

And, he chose that beautiful name – Francis.  So much more beautiful in Italian: Francesco!  It made me remember a quote that I heard many years ago, “A name accrues its heritage.”  It gave me goose bumps to hope that the papacy of Pope Francis, this Jesuit Pope, this Franciscan Pope, will accrue the heritage of this name; a name that immediately conjures up those famous words that Jesus spoke to the Saint of Assisi from the cross eight centuries ago, “Francis, rebuild my Church.” 

Il Poverello did that through humility, through joy, through radically following the Gospel by loving the Church and bringing the Church to love poor and the most marginalized in our midst, just like the One he followed.  It looks like this new Francis intends to do the same. 

A Jesuit Pope with a Franciscan heart! Could there be a more perfect combination?  He seems exactly what the Church and the world needs now.  Pope Francis, rebuild our Church and renew our faith!


  1. This was such a touchingly written piece that it brought tears and sobs. I am a 'sometimes Church goer who is angry at the church' and longs for change. I too had many of the same qualities as you on hopes for a new Pope and really prayed it would be Cardinal Sean. When I heard the name and his age announced, I thought that's it, more of the same. Then the more the TV commentators talked about him, the more hope I gained of him being a different kind of Pope. I guess only time and the Holy Spirit will tell. "Francis, rebuild my Church," Please.
    Thank you for writing this and thanks to Mark Brown for putting it on Facebook.

    Mrs Anonymous