Welcome Holy Father Francis !!!

Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Pope Francis
Yesterday my eyes were glued to EWTN as I watched the white smoke billow from the Sistine Chapel chimney, followed by the bells, the pageantry, and then this meek and unimposing figure appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's.   He was not wearing the traditional red cape, and he saved the pallium strictly for prayer.  The pectoral cross was a simple one, unlike the gold and jewelled cross usually worn by popes.  It was quite a unique and fascinating spectacle.  Then he did something truly amazing.  He asked the people to pray that God would send him a blessing, as he bowed his head to pray with us.  After, he gave the traditional papal blessing to the people.  What a way to start a new pontificate!  So different, yet so refreshing.

I wish to thank the Holy Spirit, and the cardinal electors, for giving us this pope.  I know that I am only just now beginning to understand the reason why they selected him.  I have received word, via various Internet sources, that His Holiness Pope Francis has already made contact with His Holiness Benedict XVI.  This is good to know.  Considering the humility the Holy Father has already displayed in less than the 24 hours since his selection to receive the Keys of Peter, I feel confident that he will avail himself the opportunity to consult with the pope emeritus on many issues, and this I believe to be a very good thing.  Just imagine it!  For the first time, perhaps in all of history, two papal minds will work on solving problems together, one currently reigning, the other retired.  Those who said the pope emeritus will have no contact with the reigning pope were living in fantasy land.  Perhaps in saying such things, they inadvertently revealed something about themselves, something about their feelings toward the last Holy Father.  No, these two men will pray together.  They will consult together, and yes, they will solve problems together.  To even suggest they won't is to escape reality.  What current pope would not avail himself the opportunity to pray and consult with an experienced predecessor?  It's an opportunity that has not existed for some 600 years!

By now the stories of Pope Francis' meek humility are circulating throughout the world.  I could recount them here but for the sake of brevity I will not.  I will only say that I am impressed and pleased beyond words to describe.

Now I feel compelled to deal with an unfortunate matter of business.  It seems some traditionalist Catholics were expecting to see a Cardinal Ranjith, or a Burke, appear on the balcony of St. Peter's.  Previously, on this blog, I publicly made known my own affections toward Cardinal Burke.  Of course, I maintain a very high regard for him, and of course, part of me would still have preferred to see him on the balcony.  Yet, I know that I am not a conduit to the Holy Spirit.  That duty is reserved for others, and so, with thankful affection, I praise the Lord God for the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis.  I am a traditionalist of the Anglican sort, based on my journey into the Catholic Church through Anglicanism, and so that is where my love of liturgy was born.  Nevertheless, because of the lack of availability of an Anglican Use mass in my area, I have also gained a strong affection for the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite).  I attend an Extraordinary Form mass as often as I can, sometimes even weekly, as well as an Ordinary Form mass.   I have a deep love for Catholic liturgy, properly celebrated of course, so if you're a traditionalist, don't lump me together with those who never blink an eye to liturgical abuses.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm about as conservative, orthodox and traditional as they come, but anyone who knows me will also tell you I am not one of those who thinks he is more Catholic than the pope!  I occasionally get emails from various people who think they are, and while I do read them, I usually don't bother engaging in a debate with such people.  Based on past experience, I've found it to be a waste of time and energy.  I would have much better luck debating with a hard-core Protestant Fundamentalist.

So the following is not directed toward anyone out there who already thinks he (or she) is more Catholic than the pope.  It is directed toward regular traditionalists, who just love the ancient liturgy and mourn the loss of solemnity and reverence in the modern Church.  To those people I say the following...

Don't believe everything you read.  In some groups there is a lot of sour grapes right now because they didn't get what they want.  Emotions are running high, and wherever emotions run high, that is the devil's playground.  There are only two things a tradition-loving Catholic should be doing right now.  One, have a glass of good wine and relax to enjoy the moment.  Two, start praying hard for Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  God has allowed this unique circumstance in history to transpire for a reason, and guess what?  You're prayers for these two men are part of it!  Time to get busy.

Now as for all this nonsense floating around the Internet right now, let me just say this.  Two-thirds of the cardinal electors were made cardinals by Benedict XVI.  The other third by John Paul II.  There was no way that anyone could have been elected pope without getting at least a third of the Benedict cardinals on board, and based on some of the accidental slips of the tongue that have come from the cardinal electors already, it would appear Cardinal Bergoglio got well over the votes required to be selected pope.  Based upon some of the reports coming out now about the conclave in 2005, he was Cardinal Ratzinger's biggest opponent then.  (When I say "opponent" I mean it in a friendly sense, like two competitive brothers.)  There was a reason the cardinal electors chose him, and now we just have to wait and trust it was the Holy Spirit who led their hand.  To come out with all sorts of assumptions this early in the game is a huge mistake.  The Keys of Peter have a way of changing the very character of the man who holds them.  Pope John Paul II was not the same as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła when he received the keys.  We saw the papacy change him.  He started out very dynamic and non-traditional in the beginning, but toward the end (from 1988 onward) he slowly leaned back toward tradition.  Pope Benedict XVI was not the same as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  When elected, everyone thought "God's Rottweiler" would snarl his so-called "fangs" and excommunicate every liberal modernist in sight.  Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI did take many disciplinary actions toward many individuals and groups, but overall we came to know him as a gentle and humble man, who preached the joy of the gospel at every turn.  Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio will likewise experience a transformation.  That's not just some wild prediction.  That's guaranteed based on history.  What remains to be seen is what he will be transformed into?  That is the Holy Spirit's business right now.  Our business is to pray.  So let's keep our noses out of God's business and get back to ours.

From a traditional perspective, there are some first actions that look rather encouraging.  Today, the first full day of his pontificate, his first official act as Pope was to go to St Mary Major in Rome and offer flowers before the painting of Our Lady titled Salus Populi Romani.  Then he prayed at the tomb of Saint Pius V, the reforming Pope who; presided over the Council of Trent, gave us the Traditional Latin (Tridentine) mass, excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, and formed the Holy League, which defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto, which he attributed to the intercession of Mary.  What does this all mean?  It means Pope Francis sees himself as a reforming pope who is heavily Marian and has pleaded for her intercession and the intercession of Saint Pius V.  I'm I the only one seeing a traditional streak starting to develop in this man?  I wonder how his future conversations with His Holiness Benedict XVI will play into this?

In my opinion, the only people in the Church who have good cause to fear and tremble right now are those part of the "business as usual" crowd, who like things the way they are, and don't want anybody messing up their cushy ride.  If you're one of those people, go ahead and complain.  You've actually got a good reason.  As for the rest of us; sit back, enjoy the moment, and start praying daily for our new pope and pope emeritus.


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Paul said…
Thanks, beautiful commentary for a beautiful man who loves the poor.
I must admit that I was apprehensive at first, namely because Jesuits scare me but I will put my trust in God and yes, keep praying, every day!