It all started with this:
Then the bells of St. Peter’s began ringing. Habemus Papam! We have a Pope!!
The resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI came as such a shock to the world. I think many people believed that it would take all this week and maybe into next week before the Cardinals would be able to install a new Pontiff. But on the 2nd day, the 5th vote the white smoke appeared. My phone started ringing (my mom calling from DC to see if I had heard the news!) and I started jumping around the room like a little kid. Conclave is exciting! This is only the 2nd of my lifetime and my first as a Catholic (I came in to the church in 2007, 2 years after Benedict had been installed.) I too was prepared for it to last a little longer. I tuned in around the time of each vote to watch the chimney. At first when the smoke started it looked so dark I was unsure, but then it got lighter and lighter. All I knew was that if this Pope chose the name Peter I would freak out! (lol- if you haven’t read the prophecy of St. Malachy, which the church doesn’t back and believes to be a fallacy, you probably won’t understand that, but if you have then you know!!)
Then the waiting game began. We knew it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to be introduced to the new Pope. It took over an hour this time. But when the lights turned on on the Vatican Balcony we knew it was any moment. Like Savannah Gutherie said on Today this morning, there are very few moments of pure suspense anymore, but this was one of them!
When they came out and announced Habemus Papam the crowd went crazy! It was amazing to see all those people crammed into St. Peter’s square (they estimate over 150,000!!!) They were truly celebratory, waving flags from countries all over the world. I imagine most of them were Catholics, but a large part of them probably were not. They were every different race, spoke many different languages. Some were there to meet their spiritual Father for the first time, others were there just to be part of history. But they were there, in the rain, in the cold, waiting to see him. When they announced his name I missed it (I don’t speak Latin!!!) but when he walked out on that balcony I immediately liked him! He looks so sweet, so genuine, so humble. Even a little bit shy! And his smile is so warm and welcoming!
|Pope Francis I|
I love that he took his name after this wildly popular Saint:
|St. Francis of Asissi|
It’s an interesting choice and immediately people began asking “So is he a reformer then?” St. Francis was definitely a reformer in the church, receiving his call from God who told him to “Rebuild my Church”. And looking at Pope Francis’s record as Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires I think he is indeed a reformer. He isn’t going to change doctrine. The churches position on gay marriage, contraception, women priests, etc will not change under his leadership. He will be a Pope of the People. I think he will mandate a call to get back to the basics: caring for the poor, the sick, the lonely, the downtrodden. This is a man who regularly traveled to the slums to be with the poor (on the bus mind you, not chauffeured by a driver!). He ministered to AIDs patients, washing and kissing their feet. He ministered to single mothers, even chastising other priests who were refusing to baptize the babies of unwed mothers. I heard a commentator on CNN last night say that Pope Emeritus Benedict showed us the teachings of Jesus, Pope Francis will show us His face. I LOVED that!!! We all know that the church needs reforming. I like that Pope Francis is not a Vatican man. He hasn’t spent the last few decades in Rome. He has spent it among the people, serving them, loving them, watching their struggles.The Church needs to return to her roots of serving and loving ALL people. In the politics of the times LOVE has been lost. It’s time to return to it! Jesus said when asked which of the Commandments was the greatest “You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. And the second is like unto it, You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself.” (emphasis mine.) And I think Pope Francis will be the one to lead us there!
A friend commented on Facebook that he’s so old and we’ll be doing this again before we know it. My thought was he must be exactly what the Church needs at this exact moment in time. Yes, we might be doing this again in 5 or 8 years, but think about how amazing these 5 or 8 years could be for the Church under his leadership! It makes me excited, and hopeful, to think about!