A Cardinal’s Eye View of the Conclave
First, Boston’s own Cardinal Sean talks about the conclave on his blog. Don’t miss the embeded video where he shows off his keepsakes and shares some wonderful details about his experience. Actually, I’ll just post the video here, why don’t I.
Thursday March 14, 2013 – ROME
Produced by Pilot New Media ©2013
I love this now famous picture not only because it reveals Pope Francis as a simple man—as Cardinal Dolan imagined him saying, “I’ll just go back on the bus with the guys,”—but also because one of the cardinals must have snapped it with his cell phone. I wish I knew which one whipped out his phone to snap a picture of the new pope. (Actually two of them must have because there’s another shot showing him from the rear of the bus.) Cardinals snapping pictures with cell phones. I love it.
No, Really. Who’s Calling?
Did you see this bit about the doorman at the Jesuit motherhouse in Rome who got a surprising phone call?
“The doorman answered the phone. They said it was call from St. Martha’s Residence and he heard a soft and serene voice: ‘Buon Giorno, sono il Papa Francesco, vorrei parlare con il Padre Generale (Good morning, it’s Pope Francis. I’d like to speak with the Father General).’”
“The doorman almost answered: ‘Yeah, and I’m Napoleon,’ but he resisted. Instead he replied curtly, ‘May I ask who’s calling?’ The Pope realized the young Italian man didn’t believe it was him, so he kindly repeated, ‘Seriously, it’s Pope Francis. What’s your name?’”
I was chuckling and whooping as Dom read it to me. Such fun.
Cardinal Bergolio’s Lenten Letter
On a slightly more serious note, this letter for Lent 2013 is really beautiful. One of my friends on reading it said, “We have a poet for a pope!”
Little by little we become accustomed to hearing and seeing, through the mass media, the dark chronicle of contemporary society, presented with an almost perverse elation, and also we become [desensitized] to touching it and feeling it all around us [even] in our own flesh. Drama plays out on the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our homes and—why not?—even in our own hearts. We live alongside a violence that kills, that destroys families, that enlivens wars and conflicts in so many countries of the world. We live with envy, hatred, slander, the mundane in our heart.
The suffering of the innocent and peaceable buffets us nonstop; the contempt for the rights of the most fragile of people and nations is not so distant from us; the tyrannical rule of money with its demonic effects, such as drugs, corruption, trafficking in people—even children—along with misery, both material and moral, are the coin of the realm [today]. The destruction of dignified work, painful emigrations and the lack of a future also join in this [tragic] symphony.
Our errors and sins as Church are not beyond this analysis. Rationalizing selfishnesses, does not diminish it, lack of ethical values within a society metastisizes in [our] families, in the environment of [our] neighborhoods, towns and cities, [this lack of ethical values] testifies to our limitations, to our weaknesses and to our incapacity to transform this innumerable list of destructive realities.
The trap of powerlessness makes us wonder: Does it make sense to try to change all this? Can we do anything against this? Is it worthwhile to try, if the world continues its carnival merriment, disguising all [this tragedy] for a little while? But, when the mask falls, the truth appears and, although to many it may sound anachronistic to say so, once again sin becomes apparent, sin that wounds our very flesh with all its destructive force, twisting the destinies of the world and of the history.
I read the first part of it out loud to Dom and I agree. So beautiful.
An interview with then-Cardinal Bergoglio. I love the way he called his diocese of Buenos Aires Esposa and disliked being away for longer than he had to be.
Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye:
In the Church harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. One of the early Fathers of the Church wrote that the Holy Spirit «ipse harmonia est», He Himself is harmony. He alone is author at the same time of plurality and of unity. Only the Spirit can stir diversity, plurality, multiplicity and at the same time make unity. Because when it’s us who decide to create diversity we create schisms and when it’s us who decide to create unity we create uniformity, leveling. At Aparecida we collaborated in this work of the Holy Spirit. And the document, if one reads it well, one sees that it has circular, harmonic thinking. The harmony is perceived not as passive, but creative, that urges creativity because it is of the Spirit.
Staying, remaining faithful implies an outgoing. Precisely if one remains in the Lord one goes out of oneself. Paradoxically precisely because one remains, precisely if one is faithful one changes. One does not remain faithful, like the traditionalists or the fundamentalists, to the letter. Fidelity is always a change, a blossoming, a growth. The Lord brings about a change in those who are faithful to Him. That is Catholic doctrine. Saint Vincent of Lerins makes the comparison between the biologic development of the person, between the person who grows, and the Tradition which, in handing on the depositum fidei from one age to another, grows and consolidates with the passage of time: «Ut annis scilicet consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate».
To me apostolic courage is disseminating. Disseminating the Word. Giving it to that man and to that woman for whom it was bestowed. Giving them the beauty of the Gospel, the amazement of the encounter with Jesus… and leaving it to the Holy Spirit to do the rest. It is the Lord, says the Gospel, who makes the seed spring and bear fruit.
The early theologians said: the soul is a kind of sailing boat, the Holy Spirit is the wind that blows in the sail, to send it on its way, the impulses and the force of the wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Without His drive, without His grace, we don’t go ahead. The Holy Spirit lets us enter the mystery of God and saves us from the danger of a gnostic Church and from the danger of a self-referential Church, leading us to the mission.
I found his reference to the Japanese church especially endearing:
Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized… It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice. I’m thinking of those Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had also lived their apostolic mission in virtue of baptism alone. One must not be afraid of depending only on His tenderness
Pope Francis visits UD
last week a friend and former UD classmate shared this tantalizing tidbit on Facebook:
I heard the coolest University of Dallas Pope Francis story on tv today.
After Pope Francis spoke this afternoon to the college of cardinals, the EWTN announcer told a story about Archbishop Bergoglio visiting the UD Rome campus in 2001. He was in Rome to receive his appointment by John Paul II as a Cardinal. After he spoke to the students, the faculty wanted to take him out to dinner but he refused, asking if instead he could just eat with the students. Since it was not the usual dinner time he asked the faculty what they had in the refrigerator and then proceeded to cook the faculty a pasta meal. So says Joan Lewis of EWTN.
today Dom’s colleagues in Rome got the full scoop and aired it on this afternoon’s radio program. You can here it here on The Good Catholic Life, it’s in the second segment. Below is a transcript of the relevant bit:
Scot was outside St. Peter’s Square and welcomed Michael Severance of the Action Institute to the show. Scot asked him to relate a story of then-Cardinal Bergoglio visiting the Rome campus of the University of Dallas. Michael said at the time he was director of the the university’s Rome program and they had a monthly speaker and dinner program. In February 2001, the guest was the then-archbishop who was two days from being made a cardinal. Michael’s job was to be his liaison and he arranged his travel for his visit, but he said the cardinal insisted on taking a train, which was very inexpensive. When they met, he insisted he call him Father Jorge instead of Your Excellency. And because he’d missed his original train, he’d missed the dinner but he gave his talk anyway. His English was quite good, but it sounded like he worked hard to memorize it. He finished the topic of the talk on the economic crisis in Argentina at the time. His theme was that if people believed in Christ, they would have 100% of what they need and would not have felt the losses as keenly. Afterward, Michael offered to take him out to dinner because he’d missed it earlier.
Michael said at the time he’d been used to so much formality in Rome and how important it was to use the correct title for someone, but if this was what the archbishop wanted, then that’s what he would do. He understood him immediately to be a person of the people and of great humility. His refusal to take a car or a taxi, but instead to take the cheaper train showed he understood the pain of the people in Buenos Aires who had so little money.
And then as for dinner, he said let’s go to dinner. But Michael said the cafeteria was closed and offered to take him to Castel Gandolfo for dinner. He said there was no need to take him out for an expensive dinner and asked what they had in the refrigerator. Michael checked his kitchen and found some cheese, sausages, pasta and good Roman bread so he offered a nice typical spaghetti amatriciana and they had a nice family meal with the children and Michael’s boss’s family.
In interacting with the students, whenever asked a question by the students, he would look at this feet and rub his forehead vigorously. Michael at first thought he was having trouble understanding the students’ Texas accent. But when he answered it was clear he understood everything and had been recording everything in his mind. He said he has great listening capacity. He chooses his words wisely. His conversational English he rated at upper intermediate.
Michael said his reaction upon hearing the name, at first he thought it was Cardinal Pell until others corrected him. He and his wife had talked previously about the possibility of the man they’d had in their home for dinner would be pope.
Pope Francis and the Cardinals
Brandon Vogt added hilarious subtitles to this short video clip of Pope Francis meeting with the cardinals. It’s good for a laugh. But I was really struck by his body language, his humor. There were several times when I really, really wanted to know what he was saying, to be in on the joke. The way he talks while holding onto the other man’s arms or hands, the way he talks with his hands. It’s just beautiful.
Why the pope chose the name Francis
Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!
I love his concluding line:
“How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor.”
You can watch the video here. I’m really finding that I much prefer watching this pope speak and hearing his words in his own voice. The transcripts just don’t do him justice since there is so much in his delivery that conveys meanings beyond what the words say. He talks with his hands. He smiles and jokes. So warm and open.
I was especially struck by this bit too:
I am particularly grateful to those who viewed and presented these events of the Church’s history in a way which was sensitive to the right context in which they need to be read, namely that of faith. Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events! But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to use, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public. The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.
Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Successor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.
It is important, dear friends, to take into due account this way of looking at things, this hermeneutic, in order to bring into proper focus what really happened in these days.
And then the way he ended… such sensitivity for the non-Catholics in the audience, respecting their consciences, but reminding them they are beloved children of God. I think he will win many hearts.
The Pope and the People
This was just beautiful. On Sunday after saying Mass at the Vatican City parish church of Santa Anna, Pope Francis stood outside to greet parishioners as they left, much to the consternation of his security team. You can see them grabbing people and pulling them away to keep the crowd flowing. Meanwhile the pope is grabbing people, hugging them and kissing them, especially the kids. Be sure to skip to the end. After the last parishioners leave he goes out to greet the crowd of bystanders. I think his security team was having conniptions at that point, you can see them gesticulating and trying to hold people back.
But if we are like that Pharisee at the altar – I thank you, Lord, that I am not like all the others, and that I am not like the man at the gate, like that publican (cf. Luke 18:11-12) – then we do not know the Lord’s heart, and we will never have the joy to experience this mercy! It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an inscrutable abyss. But we must do it! “Oh, father, if you knew my life, you would not speak this way!” “Why, what have you done?” “Oh, I have done terrible things!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: he would be happy if you told him these things!” He forgets, he has a special capacity to forget. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). That is the only counsel he gives you. After a month, we are in the same situation … Let us return to the Lord. The Lord never wearies of forgiving: never! We are the ones who grow weary of asking forgiveness. And let us ask for the grace to never weary of asking forgiveness because he never wearies of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace. [emphasis mine]
By Showing Compassion and By Choosing
We ask, when reading about what Christ did, “How did Jesus come to pick Matthew?” He called Matthew by a) having compassion and b) by making a decision.
So the new Bishop Bergoglio, back in the day, chose a motto to describe how he would go about being a bishop: he would be a bishop by showing compassion and by making decisions… miserando atque eligendo. He was probably thinking about how he felt himself to have been selected by God to follow Him: because God was merciful to Him and because God selected Him. Thus, as a bishop, He would do the same: show mercy and make choices.
On a New Tack
I liked this thought by Father Longenecker:
We need to remember that progress in the church is like sailing. When sailing you don’t always have the wind When you are sailing against the wind you have to beat the wind. You said with the wind coming at an angle and go in a direction other than directly where you want to go. Then you swing around and sail in the opposite direction at a slight angle, then swing about again and repeat the process. You never seem to be going in a straight line where you want to go, but you get there in the end through this zig zag process–tacking back and forth sort of progress.
So it often is in the spiritual life and in the life of the church. Here we benefit from the charism and gifts of one pope. We learn from him and appreciate his emphasis. There we benefit from the different charism and gifts of another pope. We learn from him and appreciate his emphasis. So the fullness of the Catholic Church is experienced and the wideness and breadth of the work of grace can be seen.
I don’t want to pay too much attention to the reactions to Pope Francis, but two voices really said some of the things I’ve been thinking.
For me, it comes down to this. Both of these Popes were and are pastors. Both have given their lives for us, for Christ. We can – and should be open to being – taught by both. All I’m saying is that – as Pope Francis himself has acknowledged in his own words these past few days – Pope Benedict was all about Christ. He spent 8 years as your Pope, “proposing Jesus Christ” through his words and actions – even his red shoes. If Pope Francis’ actions so far preach Christ more clearly to you then so be it. Christ is who is important, and we are a Church of great diversity for a reason. But what has been so bizarre and even saddening over the past few days is a tone and implication that Benedict was somehow about something else besides Jesus Christ.
Liturgical conversations have resurfaced with a vengeance over the past few days. Just a few points there: A few days ago, a church historian was quoted as saying, “You have to remember that Benedict was a clotheshorse.” What that expert fails to recognize was that Benedict’s attention to papal garb was not about vanity – I mean – really. It was about what he was always about: history And not history as a museum, out of an antiquarian interest, but as a link from the present to the past. The red shoes – so maligned even by Catholics who should know better – are a symbol of blood. Blood , people. The blood of the martyrs and the blood of Christ on which His vicar stands, and through him, all of us. Popes – yes, even John XXIII and Paul VI – wore them until John Paul II stopped. Then Benedict reinstated them. That is, he humbled himself before history and symbol and put the darn things on.
Why did he reinstate them? Because he was vain, monarchical and arrogant? Because he was out of touch with the poor? Because he was, in the terms of the esteemed professor, a “clotheshorse?” Because they look good? I doubt it, because, you know, they don’t, not really. Maybe – just maybe – because he believes was they symbolize? That his office is rooted in the blood of the martyrs, especially Peter? And that it is good for the Pope in the 21st century to maintain this link to and through other Popes who have done the same thing, to Peter, and then to Christ?
But hardly anyone even bothered to go that far. Just think if we had. Just think if more of us had been open to being taught by these gestures and symbols and instead of reflexively looking askance at it because it is culturally distant from us, had asked these questions and let them inform our faith – our own willingness to be martyred, to give our lives and our hearts to Christ and his people.
As a Catholic, I find myself joyful at the new pope simply because he is the new pope. Not because I think there was something lacking in prior popes. I felt the same deep attachment to John Paul II and to Benedict XVI. I was excited that John Paul II hiked and skied. I was excited that Benedict XVI kept cats and played Mozart. I am excited that Francis rode in the bus with the rest of the cardinals and dropped by his old hotel in person to pay his bill. It’s not that I prefer one pontif’s personality to another, I simply enjoy “getting to know” these deeply holy men who lead our Church on earth.
With Both Lungs?
Finally, how amazing is it that the Ecumenical Patriarch will attend the pope’s inaugural Mass? Historic! Perhaps it’s in poor taste, but Dom suggested it would be ironic if a pope with one lung realized John Paul II’s vision of a Church that breathes with both lungs, meaning the unity between East and West, Catholic and Orthodox.