Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Francis, our Pope

Well, if we didn't see Benedict's departure coming, we certainly didn't see Francis's arrival either.
"Habemus Papam" - those famous words led to a look of surprise on the faces of most of the crowd when the name was announced. I suppose in retrospect we should have at least thought it possible, a sit is believed he was "runner-up" in 2005. The reason he hasn't been on most people's radar is his age - 76. But it makes sense - he's from the developing world, from the continent with the largest proportion of Catholics. 
He's a Jesuit - a first, but he's taken the name Francis, when the Jesuits and Franciscans have been traditional rivals. Watch the detail too. He appeared on the balcony with just the plain white cassock - no mozzetta, the little red and ermine cape. Word is he sold the archbishop's residence in Buenos Aires, and that he used public transport to get around the city.
Rocco Palmo has written this evening in his blog that with these factors Pope Francis "has signaled three things: his desire to be a force of unity in a polarized fold, a heart for the poor, and his intent to "repair God's house, which has fallen into ruin"... that is, to rebuild the church. These are the words that St Francis of Assisi heard from the Crucifix at San Damiano in Assisi. What better way to describe a new pope's ministry...
Statue of St Francis at prayer, San Damiano, Assisi

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