As the white smoke rose from the chimney this time around I could not help but imagine what this man, who had just been chosen as our new Pope, was probably feeling. There is no doubt in my mind that the so called “Room of Tears”, where the former Cardinal takes on the vestments and the role of the Sommo Pontefice, has witnessed many tears by each man who has entered and pondered the prospect of what is to come and how God’s will has played out in their lives. In fact, the new name is not only the symbol of a new leader for the Catholic Church, but it also symbolizes, as it does throughout scripture as when Jesus renamed Simon– Peter (Petrus–rock), a new life; a sort of death and resurrection of a new man, a new Pope!
Once the official Habemus Papam had been proclaimed from the loggia by the Cardinal Protodeacon, Senior Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the anticipation grew by the second. I am not sure many knew who Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio was. Unlike 2005, when the name Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger rang through St. Peter’s Square, many already knew he was the head of the Pontifical Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A man who had served in the Roma Curia for over 20 years, many were familiar with the name Ratzinger. Bergoglio wasn’t really well known outside of Argentina, at least not by the general public.
As our new Pope stepped out onto the loggia, I believe many were stunned by his greeting. The simplicity and the genuine closeness to the people on that square was overwhelming and touching. His request to pray for Benedict XVI before anything else followed by his humble request for prayers for himself was a lesson for us all in humility and trust.
Pope Benedict XVI left his mark on the Papacy by his extraordinary humility, particularly in his manner of leaving the role as Pope. For us to receive a man such as Cardinal Bergoglio who, back home in Buenos Aires was known simply as “Padre Jorge” as our new Holy Father, is but a gift from God and a certainty that the Lord chooses His leaders through the grace of His Holy Spirit.
There is no doubt in my mind, as many have confirmed in these days, that the name Francis sheds light onto the type of Papacy this will be. Make no mistake that St. Francis of Assisi (for whom he chose his name) was not a bird watching, dog rescuing, nature lover. He indeed was a Saint who glorified God in all His creation but also went head-to-head with the Sultan of Egypt, renounced a comfortable life for a life of real poverty for the sake of Christ and who took the words of the Lord…”Francis rebuild my Church” and lived them until his last breath.
Already in the past two days, Pope Francis has manifested the words St. Francis is best known for “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words”. Pope Francis brings his love of the poor, his simplicity, his closeness to the people of God and his love of the Church with him as Bishop of Rome. His humility is not a veneer that hides his love of truth and orthodoxy. His strength and courage will certainly be well received in a time when the Church battles with the plague of relativism and a need for the new evangelization in so many formerly Christian countries, such as his own.
Cardinal Bergoglio was known to go out onto the streets of Buenos Aires and preach the Gospel. His call to all of the priests in his diocese was for the same. This is a man close to the heart of the Emmanuel community. Let us take this as a renewal in our own call to live adoration, compassion and evangelization with greater fervor and zeal as we prepare to enter into this new time for our Church.
Thank you Lord for this new Pope whom we already love and pledge our fidelity to.