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A Week of Firsts
Catholic World Report ^ | March 19, 2013 | Michael Severance

Posted on 03/19/2013 10:56:28 AM PDT by NYer

Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating his inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Some of the less-experienced journalists covering the papal conclave were right on the money one week ago. As wrote in my report last Monday, many of these young vaticanisti covering their first conclave believed that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had a strong chance of surging from behind to beat leading papabili such as Cardinals Scola and Ouellet. 

They were convinced the Argentine would have his rivincita—his comeback—in the 2013 conclave. Their rookie rhyme was not without reason.

Their plain and simple reasoning, not appreciated by the most experienced Vatican scholars and journalists, was essentially this: here is a man who was the apparent runner-up in 2005, and 50 of the cardinal electors from 2005 would be present again in the Sistine Chapel. Surely a good portion of them, say 30 to 40, would team up to recast a Bergoglio ballot for pope. Certainly many cardinal electors still felt wronged for having lost and desired retribution. Thus, they came to battle for their chosen leader.

Even if this wasn’t exactly what played out behind the closed doors of the conclave, a man known as “the quiet thunder” would indeed come roaring from behind to be chosen in the 2013 papal election.

To their credit, expert papal scholars and veteran vaticanisti, such as John Allen, Jr., did have a hunch: namely, the next pope would come from a developing country, most likely from the New World, and with little or no Curia experience, thus being positioned as an objective reformer without the local friends or nepotistic considerations that can fuel corruption.

Like other experts, Allen thought the most likely scenario involved a New World candidate who is Euro-compatible, that is, a polyglot with plenty of first-world experience and Continental heritage. Thus there was strong support for the Brazilian of German extraction, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer. Bergoglio was seen as too old, especially considering Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had apparently indicated the need for a younger, more energetic successor.

All said and done, it is a fairly safe bet that Cardinal Bergolgio had very strong support on the first vote and that he enjoyed a wave of momentum until the white smoke blew after the fifth round on day two.  It is also a safe bet to say the Holy Spirit gently nudged cardinal electors to reconsider Bergoglio when, during the last of the pre-conclave general congregations, he urged his colleagues to revitalize the Church’s sensitivity to poverty, renew her virtue of austerity in a consumerist-materialistic society, and rid herself of sinful corruption.

The rest is now history.

A week of firsts

Certainly, last Wednesday was not the first time many faithful had personally witnessed the exciting Habemus Papam! pronounced from St. Peter’s loggia.

Many folks, just like me, were right there in St. Peter’s Square only eight years ago when a shy Benedict appeared before a spill-over crowd. Still others, now graying and with grandchildren, were there on John Paul I’s or John Paul II’s first day nearly 35 years ago.

Notwithstanding, this past week proved a historic week of “firsts” for many other noteworthy reasons.

We now have the first Jesuit pope. And the first pope named Francis. He is the first non-European pope since Gregory III, an eighth-century Syrian. And we now have the very first pope from the Americas.

We have also witnessed a pope who is shunning what some critics perceive as Vatican tinsel and niceties during these economic hard times.

Francis has refused to ride in the pope’s private car (preferring the shuttle bus) or to wear red shoes and a fur-lined cape, or mozzetta, opting for ordinary black shoes and a white cassock.

This is the first time in a very long while that we have listened to a pope who readily quips in public and frequently includes off-script interjections to prepared remarks—at his first Mass with his brother cardinals, then a second time during his first press conference with journalists on Saturday, then a third time during his Sunday sermon at the Vatican parish of St. Anne, and again only a few hours later at his noontime Angelus, when he preached from his apartment above St. Peter’s Square. Not even John Paul II was at such ease with humor and his own words so early on in his pontificate.

Profiling Francis: Insights from Vatican experts

We have had barely six days to get to know Pope Francis a little better. And many of us are just now delving into Bergoglio’s biography, analyzing his past sermons, and scurrying to the ends of the World Wide Web to discover further insight into his media-shy persona.

To help us understand more about Francis, I have recalled some of last week’s contributors to my CWR article: Edward Pentin, John Allen, Jr., and Samuel Gregg. I have enlisted their help to articulate distinct points about the Holy Father’s character as a pastor, communicator, and thinker, and as a Jesuit. 

Francis the pastor: “John Paul II and Benedict XVI rolled into one”

Edward Pentin, the widely read British vaticanista who contributes to the National Catholic Register, Zenit, and NewsMax and presently serves as lead analyst for the UK’s Sky News TV, spoke to me about how he sees Francis’ already well-received “pastoral style.”

“[While] Benedict XVI’s pastoral emphasis was on his writings, Francis’ will make more use of actions, symbols, and gestures,” Pentin said.

Pentin says Francis is likely to concentrate his pastoral discourses on four elements: “Christ, the poor, peace, and safeguarding creation.”

In Argentina, Pentin says Francis was known as for his warmth, humility, and compassion—three virtues that are particularly effective when pastoring both fallen-away and practicing Catholics. His outgoing pastoral style is exactly what some hoped for from a potential pope Timothy Dolan, the folksy and hospitable archbishop of New York, and by those nostalgic for the ability of Blessed John Paul II to move the largest crowds to tears and soften the hearts of even non-believers.

Pentin does not think Francis’ emphasis on simplicity and the accessible language he has used will cause him problems. Will it make it difficult for him to carry the whole Church with him, attracting both bookish Ratzingerians and Facebooking youth alike? “It’s too early to say,” according to Pentin.

He does expect Francis to balance his charisma “with a steely resolve and [language that is] dogmatically orthodox.”

“This makes him pastoral in the truest sense of the word: offering solid and clear spiritual guidance while at the same time being able to show deep compassion—you could almost say, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI rolled into one,” Pentin explained.

Francis the thinker: “Jesuits are typically not dim bulbs!”

I asked John Allen, Jr., America’s most authoritative vaticanista, what more he could tell us about Francis’ thinking and scholarly capacity, especially since the new Holy Father has published comparatively little, apparently preferring to spend time on the street with the poor and suffering than theorizing about how to best serve them.

“My read is that being a man of the people and being a thinker are not mutually exclusive,” Allen said.

Allen thinks that because Francis is a Jesuit—an order that requires its aspiring priests to study twice as long as diocesan priests—his intelligence will be on bright display as pope: “Whatever else you want to say about Jesuits, they’re typically not dim bulbs!”

We have already heard several clever quips from the new pope. He told journalists at his first press conference that he considered taking the name Clement XV, to avenge himself on Clement XIV, who suppressed the Jesuit order in 1773. After alluding to a book by German Cardinal Walter Kasper during his first Angelus address, he added, “Don’t think that I’m publicizing the books of my cardinals, that is not the case!”

John Allen says that, theologically speaking, Francis “profiles as the typical bishop from the developing world…very conservative on matters of sexual morality, fairly progressive on economic justice, armed conflict, [and] the environment.”

Under his episcopal leadership in Buenos Aires, as provincial of his order, and as a two-term president of the Argentinean Bishops Conference, Francis was known to oppose fiercely not only dissenting intellectuals and political leaders, but also his fellow clerics.

“As far as the Jesuits go, he tried to hold the line against liberation theology in the 1970s, insisting that his priests should be pastors and spiritual guides, not politicians,” Allen said. “It made him unpopular in the order. Actually, one cardinal said to me after the conclave: ‘Maybe it will take a Jesuit to fix the Jesuits!’”

Francis the advocate of the poor: “A model for all of us”

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, which specializes in articulating the intersection of religious faith with economic matters, said it is absolutely wrong to pigeon-hole Francis as a particular type of economist.

“Pope Francis is not a socialist, capitalist, leftist, libertarian, Keynesian, Hayekian, supply-sider, demand-sider, deficit hawk, or monetary dove,” Gregg said.

“He’s a Catholic, and like any other Catholic, he will look to the Scriptures, Church Tradition, the writings of the Church Fathers, the teachings of popes and councils, as well as the natural law for guidance on how to address economic questions and challenges.”

Of course Francis will be concerned about the poor, Gregg says—“That’s something Christ commanded all his followers to do.” And Francis’ care for the poor in Buenos Aires has been widely noted; he famously visited and celebrated Mass in the slums, asked supporters to donate their airfare money to the poor instead of coming to Rome when he was made a cardinal, and rode buses, trams, and subways instead of using a chauffeured car service.

Gregg says not to expect Francis to provide the Catholic faithful with a “detailed five-year plan for economic reform, or a ten-point schema for economic liberalization.”

“It is not so, because [he believes] those things are primarily the responsibility of the laity,” he said.

What we know for sure, Gregg says, is that Francis is on record as identifying “corruption as the number-one problem facing [his] country’s economy.”

That matters, Gregg says, “because while there is an economic dimension to corruption, [the pope] knows that there is first and foremost a moral dimension to corruption.”

In Gregg’s opinion all of this suggests that Francis will focus “on the need for inner moral reform, for interior conversion, [and] for making Christ’s light part and parcel of all that we do in economic life.”

Gregg, like the other Vatican experts whose insights into Francis I solicited, agrees that the new pope will provide the critical, “action-oriented leadership” the Church needs to alleviate poverty in the world. He says that thanks to Benedict XVI and Blessed John Paul II, the Church has already plentiful intellectual content to validate the moral imperative to help the poor. “[But] now we need to live it. And, like his namesake, Francis will be a model for all of us.”


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: catholic; popefrancis

1 posted on 03/19/2013 10:56:28 AM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

And the "firsts" continue. This morning, while circulating among the throng in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis kissed a few babies then asked the driver to stop. He got down from the popemobile to kiss and bless a disabled man.

God bless him!

2 posted on 03/19/2013 10:58:53 AM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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To: NYer


3 posted on 03/19/2013 11:07:23 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer

God bless Pope Francis!

4 posted on 03/19/2013 11:17:44 AM PDT by Shark24
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To: NYer

That was so nice of him! God Bless Pope Francis!

5 posted on 03/19/2013 1:37:27 PM PDT by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: NYer
Clearly a good shepherd.

Look at the smile on the man's face. What could have made him happier? And the Pope just flew down out of his pope-mobile to greet and bless him.

Somebody said that his security detail must be having fits, but one of the guests on EWTN said that she talked to the head of the Vatican police and asked him if they were worried. She said he broke into this tremendous smile and said that he was wonderful, they all loved him, and they weren't worried, they would take care of him.

That sounds like a ringing endorsement. He didn't need to say any of that.

6 posted on 03/20/2013 7:30:02 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

God bless him!


Indeed! I love this Pope. He radiates Christ!

7 posted on 03/20/2013 8:25:23 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: NYer
A Week of Firsts
Of the Pope’s mozzetta…
Pope Francis and Secularist Stereotypes
Pope Francis Urges Protection Of Nature, Weak
Pope: Homily for inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry [full text]
More Objective Reality (Cardinal Bergoglio celebrating a "youth Mass" complete with puppets)
Interactive Graphic: The Story of Every Pope In History, From Saint Peter To Pope Francis
Letter #52: On the Eve (Gospel in Greek & 33 delegations representing Christian Churches)
Mary Untier of Knots - Pope Francis' Favorite Marian Image [Catholic Caucus]
"This is the secret of Pope Francis..." (a mystical experience)
Pope Francis will shake up more than Vatican schedules
Pope keeps motto of mercy from Buenos Aires (Official Coat of Arms)
What Does The Pope’s Motto Really Say? The Latin motto explained
Buchanan: Pope Francis — Against the West?
The First American Pope
Pope Francis and his close relationship with the Jewish community
Argentine Evangelicals Say Bergoglio as Pope Francis Is 'Answer to Our Prayers'
Pope Francis' official Coat of Arms

Papal Mass (semi-vanity)
Letter #50: Hummes (Vatican releases Booklet for Pope Francis' Installation)
Is Pope Francis a Liturgical Liberal?
Pope Francis Warns Against "Demonic Worldliness"
A look at Pope Francis' schedule for next few months
Is Pope Francis a fraud? (That didn't take long)
Faith Of Our Fathers (Prayers in Song for Pope Francis) [Catholic Caucus]
Fatima Shrine recalls Pope Francis' sponsorship of the Pilgrim Image of the Virgin of Fatima
A great story of Jorge Bergoglio and a poor widow who wanted her children baptized
Former SSPX seminarian constant companion of Pope Francis
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's "Letter On the Year of Faith" (Crossing Threshold of Faith)
Pope Francis takes over Vatican's top secret dossiers (Fr. Georg tasked with guiding Bergoglio)
Liberals will soon turn on Pope Francis
Letter #49: Black Shoes (Curia Officials Reappointed ... But ... only temporarily!)
Opening Wartime Archives? (Pope Francis will open Pope Pius XII - Shoah - WWII-era archives)
Pope Francis Speaks of God’s Mercy at First Sunday Angelus
Weigel thinks Pope Francis embodies Church's future
Oh, we are in deep, deep trouble
Pope explains name, urges 'church for the poor'

Pope Francis' first moves hint at break with past
A Pope of Contradictions
Evangelist Luis Palau: New Pope Francis a Friend of Evangelicals
A Pope for All Christians
Consolation for Boston Catholics? (Pope immediately bans Cardinal Law from St. Mary Major)
Quotes from Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on 7 Moral Issues
Pope to journalists: 'I love you so much and I thank you for everything'
Letter #48: Old Age (Papal Apartments opened, Pope visits local hospital)
Jesuit doorman surprised by Pope's phone call
Pope Francis on mass media and name
Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople to Attend Papal Installation Mass
Pope Francis in Motion
Who is Pope Francis? A compilation from many news reports.
"Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." Homily of the Holy Father Pope Francis
Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi will represent the United States at Pope Francis’ Inaugural Mass
Beijing Cautions New Pope on Meddling in China
For the First Time Since the Great Schism, Ecumenical Patriarch to Attend Pope's Inaugural Mass
Ann Barnhardt on Pope Francis
New Pope snubs Cardinal Law
Pope Francis seen as humble man who can unite, rebuild Church

Pope Francis – the real deal – has Audience with Cardinals
Pope Francis—The Journey Begins
Report: Pope Francis bans disgraced Cardinal Law from his church
Pope tells cardinals: discover new ways to evangelize
Does this pope sound like a liberal to YOU?
Pope Francis could renew Catholicism in Americas, says Knights' chief
Letter #47: To Mary (Pope Francis prays at (tomb of Pope St. Pius V) [Catholic Caucus]
Pope To cardinals: Don't Give In To Devil's "Bitterness" And "Pessimism"
Pope Pays His Hotel Bill
Newly elected Pope knows Ukrainian Catholic Church, its Liturgy & Spirituality (Ecumenical)
'Go and Repair My House'
Why Did Pope Francis Go to St Mary Major?
Argentine priest kidnapped in Dirty War reconciled w/ Pope Francis (Don't blame Pope for Pinochet)
Weigel: "Bergoglio is an Old-School Jesuit, Formed by Classic Ignatian Spirituality..."
Vatican Responds to Accusations About Cardinal Bergoglio and the "Dirty War"
Pope Francis Knows What Must Be Done
Pope Francis tied up in Argentina's 'dirty war' debate
Pope Francis and the Traditional Liturgy
Links of Pope Francis to military dictatorship
Cardinal Bergoglio wrote to Fr. Gruner about Fatima [Catholic Caucus]

Why Pope Francis May Be a Catholic Nightmare [barf alert]
Pope Francis I: It’s All In the Name
Vatican official: Gay marriage a “revolutionary project” for “complete destruction of the family”
Pope Francis, and Blessed Aloysius and Blessed Agnellus: how the saints chose Bergoglio for pope
The Future Pope Francis: Additional Interviews and Writings
Pope Francis – What’s in a Name?
Pope Francis Warns Church Could Become 'Compassionate NGO'
Jesuits Surprised that First of Their Brethren is Elected Pope
World Jewish Congress head praises Pope Francis (Jewish-Catholic ties "best in 2,000 years")
How Summorum Pontificum was blocked and trampled on in Buenos Aires
Slaves of the Immac. Heart of Mary Profess Our Filial Submission to Pope Francis (Catholic Caucus)
Gay Advocacy Groups Rush to Demonize Pope Francis
Traditionalists and Pope Francis: Can We Take a Deep Breath and Please Calm Down?
What I would have said at the Consistory: An interview with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Pope Francis Offers His Second Blessing to Pregnant Mom, Unborn Baby
Cdl. Bergoglio's Lenten Letter, 2013
UPDATE: Rorate Caeli’s diatribe against Pope Francis [Catholic Caucus]
Pope Francis: A Disappointment for Catholics Who Don't Like Being Catholic
Updates on Pope Francis’ first day as Pope – Great moments! (truly humble man)
New Pope Slips Out Of Vatican For morning Prayer Visit

Our First American Pope
Pope Francis I clear on denying Communion to those who facilitate in abortion
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Profession: Servant of the Servants of God
EDITORIAL:Pope Francis I bridges conservative and progressive currents
New Pope Francis called homosexual ‘marriage’ a ‘machination of the Father of Lies’
Pope Francis Is First Catholic Pontiff From The Americas; He Is Known As A Humble Intellectual
New Pope lived simple life in Argentina
"Lowly, And Yet Chosen," Enter Pope Francis (some phenomenal firsts with this election)
10 Facts about Pope Francis
Vatican Web Site Updated
Full Text of Pope Francis’ Opening Address to Catholic Faithful
9 things you should know about Pope Francis
Pope Francis I promises to be strong pro-life world leader
New Pope celebrated Hanukkah as well as Christmas
New Pope- enemy of Catholic tradition
As Cardinal, Pope Francis condemned abortion even in rape cases
Profile: New pope, Jesuit Bergoglio, was runner-up in 2005 conclave
Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected pope, takes Francis as name
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio: a Profile
HABEMUS PAPAM!!! (Live Thread)

8 posted on 03/24/2013 4:46:23 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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