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304. The New Pope

March 13, 2013 (short url)

An expected choice does not delight as much as an unexpected pick does. And the fact that the new Pope is a Jesuit, a non-European and of humble origins is super exciting. While most people wished for a relatively younger Pope in the 65 to 72 age bracket the elevation of Cardinal Jorge to the papacy is more than welcome.

First things first,  as Bishop and Cardinal he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals. Secondly, to embrace modernity in one’s 70s is not easy but the fact that he has allowed for Pontifex on Twitter to be active is a  a simple act  or allowing this possibly fake handle on Twitter goes to show how the former Cardinal is a class apart.  Thirdly, to have been runner up in 2005 when he was 8 years younger and to be chosen now to lead the Catholic Church speaks volumes of the faith reposed in this man.

For me personally it’s a great joy as I’m proud of being a solid Jesuit product and the Jesuitness runs in my family given that my grand dad, dad, brother and I studies at St Aloysius Mangalore and my mother taught in the same Jesuit school for 14 years. Secondly, to have chosen someone born outside Europe is in line with my wish as mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago where I also mentioned an outside chance for an Argentinian. Thirdly, if all goes well I will see the Pope Francis in July at the World Youth Day in Brazil.

I wish among the many reforms Pope Francispopefrancis brings in the first couple of years the following three are given importance – a) Fixing an age limit for election and retirement of future Popes b) Involving women as priests and higher authorities in the church and c) Respecting people of all religions and all sexual orientations

I like the uniqueness in choosing Francis as the regnal name.

I end my remarks by pasting below excerpts from a beautiful mail from a friend, senior colleague and lover of the church Allwyn Fernandes which he wrote soon after the first Apostolic Blessing of the new Pope.


What a night it is! One a.m. and a new Pope who clearly brings new hope to many of us who have been in touch with each other on the phone wondering what this conclave will bring — via email and Twitter, some early this evening like the 86 years young Fr Anthony D’Souza, S.J., and still others till a few minutes ago!

What a man! He travels to bus for work (will some of our bishops now sell their Mercedes?), cooks his own meals and first asks for the blessings of the people he will lead, by asking for their prayers and then bows deeply before them, before he gives them his own blessing.

And he smiled! What a smile! Clearly, a man who knows his own mind, is not afraid of expressing himself and will clearly lead by example! Clearly self-assured — that came out very strongly. An outsider from Latin America and yet Italian  of Italian origin. That will be a great asset in a Curia full of Italian thugs. A Tagle was too young to do it, an O’Malley would have been too American and quickly generated resentment.

What a name — Francis! Francis of Assisi the environmentalist or Francis Xavier the intrepid missionary who brought the Faith to many of our forefathers? We don’t know. But clearly a break with tradition — Francis 1. 

A break with tradition even in the way he took leave of a watching world. Most withdraw quietly. Instead,he ask for something — I was wondering what it was! A mike! What greater symbol of communication, of amplification could he have asked for!

And he has been elected on a day when those responsible for the death squads in Argentina were finally brought to justice! 

Not a man from Europe or even America but from what are now called Emerging Markets. That signals another change. He comes from the Global South. Cardinal Murphy is calling him an “inspired choice”. Clearly the Holy Spirit has been at work. 

Tonight I can sing again “God Bless Our Pope, the Great the Good…” This is a night of hope, of rededication of recommitment to the Church we trusted. I trust him to weed out the freebooters, the freeloaders and restore the Church to what Jesus meant it to be. And, above all, restore our trust in the Church. I can already feel it coming back!

God Bless Francis 1!

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