On so many levels this story and the accompanying picture has challenged me and others to wonder about our own ministry and our willingness to embrace “Christ in distressing disguise” (a saying of Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
Are you among the ones challenged by the example of Francis, Bishop of Rome?
being a protector … means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world … It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. –Francis, Bishop of Rome
Today at a Mass celebrating the start of his ministry as Pope Francis I, the new pope addressed those gathered with words remembering St. Joseph as a ‘protector’ of Jesus and Mary (and in later centuries, a protector of the Church). These words especially give me hope:
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!
“How I would like a church that is poor, and for the poor.”
In my lifetime this has been the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. What is new is that these are the unscripted words of a pope who has cooked his own meals, rode the bus to work, and walked in the slums of Buenos Aires. Perhaps the way the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is daily lived by its pope is about to change.
Thomas Reese (a Jesuit priest and Vatican observer) begins his short article in the National Catholic Reporter this way, “In picking the name Francis, the new pope sent his first message to the world, but what is that message? Four possibilities come to mind, and perhaps they are all true.”
He then describes the possibilities:
First, St Francis of Assisi was known for his life of poverty.
Second, early in his career, St. Francis heard a message from God: “Rebuild my church.”
Third, Francis was also famous for his love of animals and nature.
Finally, Francis was known for his peaceful and positive attitude toward Islam.
He concludes, “Yes, there is a lot to learn from a name.”
Today (3/12/13) 115 Roman Catholic Cardinals will share the Eucharist in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10am CET. At 3:45pm CET the cardinals will file into the Sistine Chapel; shortly after they are seated those who processed with them will then be ordered out and the cardinals will begin their work to elect the next pope. Around 7pm the results of the first (and only) ballot of this day will be made known to the public via the black or white smoke leaving the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.
This is an important election for all Christians, not just Roman Catholics. The man who becomes pope and leads the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide will influence, for better or worse, the work of all Christians. Please join me in praying for the cardinals as they work to elect a pope, and please pray for the man who is soon to be elected. May God be glorified in the work of electing and in the man who becomes pope; may the nurture and welfare of all God’s people and, indeed, all of God’s creation be a joyful ministry of the new pope.
Peggy Noonan, George Weigel, James Carroll, Michael Sean Winters, Mary Eberstadt, and Paul Baumann—popular columnists for various enterprises—offer their thoughts about the “new pope.” Their assessments about a new pope are available in The Wall Street Journal online. I encourage you to read the article: What to Look for in a New Pope.
Do any of these writers tap into your own beliefs about what a new pope needs to bring to the world and, in particular, to Christianity? Which of the images presented—Joyous Anyway, A Culture Warrior, A Catholic Gorbachev, Among the Poor, Ready to Play Offense or A Californian—really gets you excited? Leave a comment.
The chimes sound many possibilities today. It is an exciting sound.
What do you hear?
With just the wind moving the chimes the melody constantly changes and is pleasant. Stick your hand into the chimes, or move the chimes yourself, and, well, its not so pleasant. What do you hear?
An understandable impulse with unfortunate dynamics
Members of the Sunday Morning Forum, including me, watch and wonder and pray as Roman Catholics (through the College of Cardinals) choose the next pope. It is a significant moment for Christianity, not just for the Roman Catholic Church. Today Religion News Service (RNS) reported on the handling of information from the cardinals now gathered in Rome prior to the conclave. The decision was made to silence all cardinals and offer media updates only through the official briefing of the Vatican.
By silencing each other I wonder if the cardinals have thus created the very dynamic they hoped to prevent: a generation of “more leaks, and more of the speculative pieces that annoy the cardinals.” (RNS) Here is the article: Cardinals move to plug leaks ahead of papal conclave posted by RNS on March 6, 2013.