Habemus Papam! Pope Francis.

Well, it looks like I got what I prayed for: a cardinal-archbishop who lives in an apartment and takes the bus to work? Wow.

A Jesuit: good, strong theological grounding there, plus the grounding in Ignatian spirituality and discernment — now there’s something we need.

A Jesuit who took the name Francis?? (Is that even allowed?) It’s been clarified that he took the name for Francis of Assisi, not de Sales.

“Francis” is a good sign, I think. Although “Rebuild my church” could have several possible interpretations, and one of them (“back to what it was in the good old days before Vatican II”) would be disturbing.

The fact that he’s never served in the Curia is a good sign for the “reform the Curia” movement. I’m keen on the selection of a bishop who is actually working as a bishop, rather than a bureaucrat or academic.

According to what I’m reading, he rejected liberation theology early on, and has consistently shown strong support for the preferential option for the poor. That sounds to me like someone who rejected the overtly political and ideological manifestations of liberation theology, while sifting out its essential values. There are allegations that he was too complicit with the Argentinian dictators, and counter-allegations that he was working quietly behind the scenes because he believed that to be the most effective approach. I find that plausible on the face of it.

I am disturbed by the harsh language he has used regarding samesex marriage and adoption by samesex couples. My impression (based on very superficial reading thus far) is that the RC church in Argentina is in the middle of its own culture war, as a country that was once thoroughly Catholic has seen significant growth among secular and evangelical Protestant populations and is now only (!) 75% Catholic. If the practice of traditional sexual morality has become a functional identity marker, as one theologian has suggested, then I can understand the impulse to hammer on those identity markers hard in such circumstances. But I devoutly hope that the bodies and experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics, and the bodies and experience of Catholic women whose moral reflection leads them to choose birth control or even abortion in certain circumstances, will be valued rather than sacrificed.

I haven’t heard anything about him with regard to the sexual abuse scandal: by which I mean not only the abuse of children but also, and more importantly, the coverup and collusion by bishops. SNAP notes that the power and status of the Catholic church in South America makes it extremely difficult for victims to speak up at all, let alone for anything positive to happen. He has no visible or known ties to the scandal at this point, at least.

I very much liked the humility and piety of his address to the crowds. Someone pointed out that he was the only person on the balcony not wearing a gold cross. And the fact that he began by asking the crowds to pray for him, first in silence, then with them praying the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, is really compelling.

Gracious God, we pray for your holy catholic church.
Fill it with your truth;
Keep it in your peace.
Where it is corrupt, reform it.
Where it is in error, correct it.
Where it is right, defend it.
Where it is in want, provide for it.
Where it is divided, reunite it;
for the sake of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

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5 Responses to Habemus Papam! Pope Francis.

  1. Excellent comments, Vicki.

    If you would like to hear my take, I did an interview with Marc Steiner tonight–brief, but full.
    Here is the link:

    http://www.steinershow.org/podcasts/pope-francis-argentina/

    • Thanks for the link! I was interested in your comment that perhaps a pope with pastoral experience will bring more compassion to how the rules are applied.

      One thing I’m very interested in is how much and what kind of experience he has with women generally, and with women religious in particular. I’ve seen stories that say he had “four brothers and sisters” but no indication as to how many of each! or whether he is in touch with his sisters today.

      Am I correct that there are no second order (vowed women) Jesuits? Do you happen to know anything about the orders of women religious in Argentina? – which orders, what kind of work they do, what their demographics are like, what their relationship has been with the bishop?

  2. Theophrastus says:

    I found it amusing that the various “experts” who pontificated in print and electronic news media were so far off the mark — both in not recognizing Bergoglio as a leading papabile, and in predicting an extended conclave. (I was particularly amused by those who claimed that Dolan was a leading contender!)

    The fact that media speculation up until now has been so unimpressive leads me to conclude that the current media speculation may also prove to be faulty.

    • I think it’s probably easier to predict the actions of an individual than the actions of the whole (voting) college of cardinals, so I would expect somewhat more accuracy in the speculations going forward. On the other hand, the bishop of Rome has a rather different set of responsibilities, and there’s no way of knowing how that might change a person.

  3. Pingback: 5 Reasons Pope Francis is a Great Choice for Alcoholics | Catholic Alcoholic

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