Skip to comments.From the Provost [of the London Oratory on the Election of the Pope]
Posted on 03/20/2013 7:26:40 AM PDT by marshmallow
Shortly before his abdication, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI delivered an address to the clergy of the diocese of Rome. He reflected on his experiences as an expert at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and on that Councils effects on the life of the Church. He spoke mysteriously of a contrast between the Council of the Fathers, meaning the proceedings that actually took place around the Pope in the Vatican, and what he called, a virtual Council, or a Council of the media. According to Pope Benedict, the real Council was firmly rooted in Catholic doctrine and aimed at renewing the Faith, while the virtual Council as presented to the world through the media had a completely different, political, objective. Pope Benedict explained: this Council [the virtual one] created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality. Seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialised. Pope Benedict even lamented that this virtual Council was stronger than the official Council itself.
Whether or not we agree with this interpretation of the hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council, we must acknowledge that the media in the world today exerts a formidable power over the information that ultimately determines how we think and live. During the last month we have lived through a Conclave of the media, in which millions of words were written and spoken in speculation about what sort of man was needed as pope, and who was likely to be elected. In the event, ninety nine and a half per cent of the prophesying turned out to be wrong. Now there is the danger of a virtual Papacy, in which every utterance and gesture of a new pope is analysed and evaluated, and all sorts of weird and wonderful predictions are made about what this new pontificate will mean.
Would it be going too far to talk about a dictatorship of the media? It sometimes seems that the media insists on setting the agenda for almost every aspect of human life. It creates new messiahs and it judges who are the monsters in our society, depending on how many boxes the chosen public figures tick on the agenda that happens to be current for the moment. Those granted messiah status totter on a wobbly pedestal because nothing sells papers or pushes up ratings better than yesterdays messiah being exposed as a mere mortal with human failings.
Soon after the election of Pope Francis, the Oratory telephone exchange was crackling with calls from the press. All of the journalists who telephoned seemed to ask the same question: How will the new pope compare with the old one? How could one possibly answer? To say it was refreshing to have a pope from the new world and to suggest that we could surely expect a different style of pontificate might look, in print, like a vulgar criticism of Pope Benedict, whose deep humility, selflessness and penetrating insight will be esteemed by all decent men and women for centuries to come. Most of us probably hope that a new pontificate will be marked by continuity with Pope Benedicts project to re-establish a sense of Catholic identity among the faithful and to restore the mystery that makes us active participants at the most profound level in the Churchs liturgy. To say so much to the press, however, would sound presumptuous, as if we were telling the new Supreme Pontiff how to do his job.
In a sense, comparing popes with their immediate predecessors is fishing for red herrings. Each Pope should be seen primarily as a successor of St Peter rather than as a replacement of any previous tenant of the papal digs in the Vatican. The fact that our new pope even declined to take the name of any preceding Supreme Pontiff helps to emphasise this. A Celestine VI or a Julius IV would have stimulated a frenzy of fascinating interpretation. The beautiful choice of Francis, however, is a name that carries no historical baggage as far as the Petrine office is concerned. It is taken from a saint who is loved, if often misunderstood, even beyond the bounds of Christendom. If there are any clues to how the current pontificate might proceed then perhaps they should be sought in a life of the Poverello from Umbria. An excellent one is Francis of Assisi, A New Biography. Written by the Dominican scholar Augustine Thompson, it was read recently from the pulpit in the Oratory refectory during supper. It presents an altogether more robust and complex figure than the fey folk-singing Francis concocted in the psychedelic imagination of the late 1960s.
Another question the journalists have been asking is: Father, what do you think about the election of this particular archbishop from Argentina to the papacy? Apart from admitting that it is a novel experience (by no means a disagreeable one) for an Oratorian to find that his immediate religious superior is a Jesuit, the Provost was at a loss for words, not having heard much about Cardinal Bergoglio before his appearance on the balcony. For want of a more original response he was grateful to have at hand a phrase from the Swiss entertainer Hans Küng, who when asked earlier in the day for his view on the election result had said: It was a very happy surprise. Im extremely delighted.
Reading the newspapers since the election of our new Pope, pious Catholics will find material that fills them with hope and joy and speculations that might give anyone sane a stroke if they happened to be true. We should not allow what we see in the press or on the Internet to disturb our serenity and distract us from prayer. That would be playing into the hands of the devil, who dreads and despises the prayers of the faithful (any timidity one might have about mentioning the devil in these modern times, by the way, has been dissolved by the fact that Pope Francis mentioned that enemy of God and man at least twice, in startlingly direct terms, in sermons on the first days after the election).
So please, do not let your attitude to the Pope be determined by the media. In this age of lightning-speed communication rumours and blatant fabrications on the Internet regularly turn up as information in mainstream news sources. And besides, the categories used by secular journalists to judge achievement and failure in the Church are bound to be very different from the spiritual and supernatural considerations that matter to a believer. St Peter, St Paul and St Francis would all be considered blundering gaffe-merchants by the standards of what is deemed politically correct today.
Whatever personal feelings euphoric, neutral or negative an individual might experience towards the person of any particular pope are neither here nor there as far as being a good Catholic is concerned. There is, however, a very definite and proper Catholic response to the election of a new Pope. We receive the Successor of St Peter into our hearts with love, and we support him with our loyalty and with our prayers. Charity, or love, here does not mean a fickle sentiment that waxes and wanes depending on whether we are delighted with a popes thundering denunciation of gambling one day and then up-in-arms about his reluctance to be carried on the sedia gestatoria the next. Love in this context is something far more constant and practical. It means praying for the Pope every day, so that Gods grace works through his gifts and his limitations for the building up of the Church. It also means that, if ever we speak of the Supreme Pontiff, it is always with the respect that is due to the awe-inspiring dignity of his office.
As Christians, of course, we owe charity to all our fellow men in virtue of the image of God that is intrinsic to every human soul. We also owe a special charity to the Pope. He is the visible head on earth of the Mystical Body of which we are members. He bears an unimaginably heavy burden. Our sacrifices, our almsgiving and our growth in Divine Charity contribute to the strength and health of the whole Church. They help the Pope in his mission of building the Kingdom of God on earth, as well as securing better-appointed accommodation for ourselves in Heaven.
Let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis. May Our Blessed Lady, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Philip Neri, and all holy Popes and Martyrs intercede for His Holiness. May his pontificate become a beautiful season of expansion for the One True Catholic and Apostolic Faith in the world. May it be a season of conversion and sanctification in my life and in yours.
Finally, a word of advice from a former journalist: dont believe too much of what you read in the press.
Always good advice!
But ... going into a towering conniption over each hysterical screed from Ann Barnhardt is so much FUN!!! (/sarc)
The Scandal of the Jewish Pope
Full text: Pope Francis homily for his inaugural Mass
A Week of Firsts
Of the Popes 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 Popes 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)
THE FULL PAPAL MASS AT SANTA ANNA'S PARISH THIS MORNING (laity kneel to receive)
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 Gods 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 FrancisThe 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: Its 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 Whats 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 Caelis 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)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.