Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis: A Humble Pope (with video)

I had a group of students in my office when it was announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope and would take the name of...Francis.  In the hours since his election, the Vatican has clarified that Pope Francis did indeed have St. Francis of Assisi in mind when taking this name.  And by taking this name, Pope Francis appears to be hinting that his papacy will be marked by humility and simplicity, and also by a desire to obey the commandment given to St Francis: "Go and rebuild my Church, which you can see has fallen into ruin."

We will have to wait and see how this pontificate will play out.  In the meantime, I want to comment briefly on what we witnessed this afternoon with Pope Francis' address to the city and the world.

His charisma and his charm came through clearly.  But what was even more apparent was his humility.  With one gesture he signaled to the church what kind of pope he was going to be: He asked for prayer as he commenced his ministry as bishop of Rome (emphasizing his role as bishop; a nod to collegiality?) and joined the crowd in silent prayer for his ministry.  It was a small gesture, but one that was very significant.

For my own sake, so that I have an easily accessible place to view it again, the video of the event is pasted below, followed by a translation of what Pope Francis said.  The excitement of the crowd when the white smoke came billowing out is contagious.  The announcement of Cardinal Bergoglio as pope by the protodeacon was somewhat comical to me, as you could almost hear the crowd collecting say, "Who is that?"  And then Pope Francis' appearance on the balcony...   Cardinal Napier wrote on Twitter after the conclave that Bergoglio's decision to take the name 'Francis' brought tears to his eyes (see his tweet below), and I have read that other cardinals reacted similarly.

I have to admit that his display of humility brought a lump to my throat.

Here's the video, from

Here's the translation of his address, which I found on the Tablet's Storify page.  I thought I'd reprint it here for the sake of ease.  It reads:
Brothers and sisters good evening. 
You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.
First of all I would say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI.. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.
Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory to the Father…
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood . My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favour. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence. 
[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]
[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi – To the City and to the World.]
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon.
We will see one another soon. 
Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.
Good night and sleep well!
Image from

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