Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013.03.13 My First White-Smoke-Over-the-Vatican Viewing

The sheer volume and power of bold and bald hope that was evidenced today in St. Peter’s Square in Rome is a statement in itself.  Thousands of people gathered to await the announcement of the election of the next leader of the largest religion in the world.

Who knows the future?—but history was made today in this election. The man the cardinals elected as the next Pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina.

He is very conservative about most church practices, theology, and morality.
He has chosen, for the very first time in papal history, the name of Francis.  He will be Francis the First!  I was hoping for Peter, but so far no one has had the courage to choose that name. St. Francis is one of the most beloved of church saints, known for his humility and his attentiveness to the needs of the poor, not just materially, but those who have been neglected and marginalized in church and society—those in fact who have suffered rejection like Jesus did.  Francis is also  known for his affection for all nature and all critters whom he called Sister and Brother. He’s the saint whose statue you often see in a garden next to the birdbath scattering food for the birds. 
     And there’s another Francis represented as well: Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Jesuit Order: the Society of Jesus.  
He is a Jesuit, another first.  That will be controversial, and also says much about this man’s intellectual grounding and his love for Jesus Christ. 
He is a Latino, representing an area of the world in which the Roman Catholic population is strong and growing. Politics is in everything, but American Latinos/Latinas will feel proud and represented.

There were clear signs today of this new Pope’s humility:
He chose to wear his own simple cross, not one of the Vatican  bejeweled papal crosses.
He asked for silence from an enormous crowd—and got it.  In the silence he bowed to receive the prayers and blessings of the people upon him— BEFORE he gave them a papal blessing.  A first!
He spoke in Italian, except when Latin was required, and in a colloquial tone, calling people his brothers and sisters, and telling them he’d “see them soon”  and to “have a good evening.”
When he was a Cardinal in his native land, he walked among the people and took public transportation or a cab.
Francis has a winning smile and a clear-eyed gaze. I do believe that this man, while conservative in many ways will LISTEN and encourage dialogue about women in the ordained ministry, homosexuality, gay marriage and adoption of children, and many other issues people are clamoring about.

I doubt that he would give much priority about my soap box issue: theological language (pronouns again!)  but who knows?  But I bet he would listen to me.

So, as always, we wait and see, pray and hope— and stay open.