Thursday, March 14, 2013

First Thoughts on the Holy Father

So, last night, well ahead of my anticipated date for such an election (I was gambling on late tomorrow afternoon), the Cardinal electors settled on one of their own an elected Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Ares, who took the name Francis (the first pope to ever name himself after my favourite saint, Saint Francis of Assisi). He is also, as I understand it, the first Jesuit priest to ever be named pope.

While that's sinking in, you'll understand we don't have a lot to go on on how a Jesuit or a devotee of Saint Francis behaves when they have the papacy. It's been less than 24 hours since he was named, and now we have some pondering to do.

So far, everything about this man screams humility, except, perhaps, for the brocaded sash and french cuffs that he wears. When coming forward for the usual welcomings and so-forth, he decided to forgo the bright crimson and gold of some of the other papal garments. He opted against the usual papal motorcade and went personally to the hotel he had been staying at previously to collect his bags, also shunning the same special sedan to travel on a bus with the cardinals and refusing a raised dias from which to address them.

In short, less than a day in, so far this pope is everything I could hope for a pope to be.

What's more, if he keeps it up, we could see real change in the way the papacy operates - Pope Francis, as Cardinal, had a notedly simple lifestyle even for local cardinals. If he continued that trend into the Papacy, it would be difficult for his successor to bring back all the usual luxuries of the papacy.

In short, if he pursued his simplicity doggedly, he could fix literally everything the public sees wrong with the Church... at least, everything that's not a matter of Doctrine. I don't foresee women as priests, a change in sexual morality, or the sudden suspension of the seal of the confessional in molestation cases on the horizon.

Have I talked about that before? I might have. I honestly can't remember.

At any rate, he could fix everything I see as being actually wrong with the church to which I am, I suppose, still a member, if not a lapsed one. I have doctrinal concerns - so does everyone my age, I think - but what would do me most good to see would be someone bringing a little Franciscan humility to the papacy, and maybe taking the gilded edge off just a tad.

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