March 14, 2013
Yesterday the conclave elected Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, who took the name “Francis” as the successor to St. Peter. The usual suspects within the Catholic Church began flipping out in a negative way with vitriolic comments that were so acidic they could have eaten away the computer screen. Why? Because…
This Pope is a Jesuit, and a good and faithful follower of St. Ignatius. So good, in fact, that his fellow Jesuits in Argentina, eaten up by the Marxism of the twentieth century still bubbling along the surface of the twenty-first, ostracized him, sending him to be rector of their seminary in Argentina. Now what better place could a religious community send someone who is faithful to the charism of the founder than to head up the place of formation for new members? They thought when they got rid of him as Provincial it would be the end of his influence, but God has the last word.
Pope John Paul II saw something in Bergoglio that would be good for the Church and appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992. In 1998 he succeeded to the position of Archbishop and was appointed Cardinal in 2001.
Those inside and outside the Church who were hoping for a pope of “change” – change in Church teaching and discipline – are furious. He is a staunch defender of life from conception to natural death, he strongly but unsuccessfully opposed the gay “marriage” law in Argentina calling it “the machination of the Father of Lies” and said that adoption of children by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. The latter comment earned him condemnation from President Christina Fernandez of Argentina who compared his tone to “medieval times and the Inquisition.” About abortion Pope Francis said that “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”
There will be no women priests. This Pope will uphold the continuous teaching from apostolic times that women cannot be ordained to the sacred priesthood, a truth Catholics must hold de fide. Likewise, he will uphold Church teaching on contraception.
We can also expect an authentic interpretation of the Catholic meaning of social justice, which does not mean giving Obamaphones to everybody on welfare or taking up rifles to assassinate politicians. Pope Francis knows what real poverty is and it is not what passes for poverty in the majority of the United States. It is the poverty of those whose entire families live in the streets with little more than the clothes on their backs, make a pittance by climbing through the city dumps scavenging anything they can possibly sell, go to bed hungry, live in cardboard or metal lean-tos, and who have no conveniences of electricity or refrigeration to name a few examples. He has visited the slums often. For him the answer is not Marxism nor liberation theology as commonly proposed but following Christ who showed us the way to care for our neighbor and who never said “The government shall be the main support of the poor and wealth is bad.”
Anyone who has been paying attention to Church governance over the past 40-50 years is aware of the rot in the Curia and the filth, as Pope Benedict called it, in the clergy. This is where we will see the change needed in the Church. This is his mandate. Pope Francis is well equipped to carry out necessary reforms at the Vatican. Nobody on earth is above him to sideline him somewhere else as the Jesuits did in 1980. In this very necessary task of prime importance he has the dossier Pope Benedict left him that points clearly to what must be done for the good of souls. This is perhaps the reason he emphasized the phrase “Bishop of Rome” from the balcony yesterday.
What distressed me the most post election were the vicious comments made by my fellow Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Whether or not this Pope encourages the EF is not the main concern in the Church today. What Pope Benedict put in place will remain in place regarding the EF. Like Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict before him, Pope Francis will be calling the world to holiness, and that is the heart of the matter. Whether we are helped through the EF or the OF of the sacred liturgy toward that holiness is according to us and the Holy Spirit, who is, above all, the Spirit of charity. At his blog, Father Z made it clear that trashing the Pope on the EF is unacceptable there, as did Father George David Byers at Holy Souls Hermitage. Thank you, Fathers!
I asked Father Mark Kirby of Silverstream Abbey in Ireland to write a litany we can use to pray for Pope Francis, who took his name after St. Francis of Assisi. While praying at the crumbling church of San Damiano one day, St. Francis heard Jesus say, “Go Francis, rebuild My house which is falling down.” I hope that Father Mark will do this for us so that, with the beautiful form of the litany prayer, we may help Pope Francis rebuild God’s house once again. If Father Mark does write a new litany, I’ll post the link here.
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R. Now and forever!
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