Francis’s First Address

Here is the text:

Brothers and sisters, good evening!

You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one… but here we are… I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you! And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him.

(Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be… )

And now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity. It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first – first I ask a favor of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.

Now I will give the Blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will. (Blessing)

Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!

J. Peter Nixon: Some Quick Thoughts on Pope Francis

Francis is known for simplicity, a commitment to the poor, and personal holiness. He was reportedly the runner-up in 2005.

Here is a taste of Nixon‘s recent post at dotCommonweal:

As many others have observed, Bergoglio has similar qualities.  He famously urged those interested in coming to his installation as archbishop to stay home and give the money to the poor.  Rather than live in the archbishop’s mansion, he chose to live in an apartment and apparently takes public transit to work (I wonder if he realizes yet that he will never do so again).  It is also reported that when he was made a cardinal, he chose to alter his predecessor’s robes rather than paying for new ones.  His choice of “Francis” as a name is, to put it mildly, extremely bold and suggests a strong identification with the poor.

In the runup to the conclave, many cardinals appeared to understand that the Church’s witness is the most powerful and compelling when it is voiced from a place of simplicity and humility.  It is then that the Church best conveys the simplicity and humility of Christ himself.  Francis’ decision to ask the crowd assembled in St. Peter’s Square to bless him before he blessed them was a powerful symbol in that regard.

Bergoglio was also, of course, from Latin America.  He reportedly came in second in the 2005 conclave, suggesting a strong base of support for a candidate from the developing world.  I don’t know whether the cardinals from Asia or Africa put forward any “favorite sons” on the first ballot, but I suspect the list of non-European candidates probably winnowed to Bergoglio and Scherer rather quickly, in which case the choice of both the critics of the Curia and those favoring a Third-World pontiff was probably clear.

A number of observers have described Bergoglio as a “conservative,” although I’m not clear what criteria they are using to make that judgment.  If the test is his opposition to same-sex marriage and legal abortion then the entire conclave was comprised of “conservatives” in which case the category is analytically useless.

Read the rest here.

Pope Francis: Some Links

Anna Williams has gathered some links at First Thoughts:

A taste:

Catholic Culture has an informative story on today’s events, and Thomas L. McDonald is rounding up news and reactions as they arrive. Zenit reports that Pope Francis has already spoken with his predecessor and will meet with journalists on Saturday. 

CNN has confirmed with a Vatican spokesman that “the new pope took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor” and the new pope should be known as Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I.” CNN also quotes reporter John Allen as calling the choice of name “stunning” and “precedent-shattering.” Rocco Palmo states that when Bergoglio was made a cardinal in 2001, he “urged Argentinians not to come [to Rome for the ceremony], but donate the money they’d spend to the poor.” 

John Allen’s recent article and a 2002 profile by Sandro Magister detail Pope Francis’ personal simplicity, and his Wikipedia page fills in some more biographical details. He is the author of several books and the subject of a biography called El Jesuita (The Jesuit), but if Amazon is any guide, none of those are available in English. The Associated Press quotes the biographer Sergio Rubin in its story, however, and Our Sunday Visitor has announced plans to publish an English-language biography of Pope Francis by Matthew Bunson called The New Pope. 

Zenit has covered some of Pope Francis’ writings and actions as a cardinal: his 2010 letter to catechists, his 2007 celebration of Rosh Hashana, his defense of traditional marriage, and his take on bishops’ call to holiness. Dawn Eden quotes his 2001 meditation on divine mercy. Life News calls him a “staunch pro-life advocate,” citing a strongly worded 2007 speech on the subject.

Read the rest here. 

Who Will Be the Next Pope: Clues from Past Conclaves

David Perry, a history professor at Dominican University, looks to the past for clues about who might be the new Pope.  He makes some interesting points in his recent piece at The Atlantic:

1.  The process of voting for a new Pope is not an “authoritarian relic of the past.”  Actually it’s “the same kind of democratic tradition that permeates modern American and European life.”

2.  Can we really expect the Cardinals to keep the rule of secrecy in an age of e-mail, texting, and other forms of digital communication?  Perry notes that the College of Cardinals have a long tradition of breaking the rules of papal selection when they are not convenient.

3. A slow election is a sign that a dark-horse candidate could emerge.

4.  Sometimes the conclave has chosen an “administrator” Pope to replace an “intellectual” Pope.  Benedict XVI was an intellectual.

Read the entire piece here.

The Holy Spirit and the Conclave

Matt Schmalz of the College of the Holy Cross explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the papal conclave.  His piece is a reminder that the conclave, above all else, is a deeply spiritual event.  Here is a taste:

When thinking about the papal conclave, it often comes down to what you believe about “inspiration” and how to get it.

When Catholics talk about religious “inspiration,” they usually are thinking about the Holy Spirit. In Catholic doctrine, the Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity. The Catholic catechism refers to the Holy Spirit with the pronoun “he,” and Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “paraclete,” the “consoler” or “he who is called to one’s side.”

For Catholics, the Holy Spirit comes through baptism, and through the other sacraments.  But he also comes in ways we do not expect.  Knowledge and wisdom are among the seven gifts that the Holy Spirit brings to sanctify a person.  There are also special or “charismatic” graces associated with Holy Spirit that are specific gifts related to a particular task or vocation for the common good.

All these gifts of the Holy Spirit figure into how the conclave is designed.

The Mass is more than a ceremony to inaugurate the proceedings. It is a sacrament that bestows grace on those who are properly disposed.  The meditative chanting of “Come Holy Spirit” is not only a petition or plea, it is a way of quieting one’s mind and heart, so that the Holy Spirit can be felt and heard.

Does Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston Have a Chance?

Michael Sean Winters, writing at The New Republic, explains how we can get our first American Pope.  Here is a taste:

This last scenario could produce the first American pope in the person of Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley. O’Malley captured the hearts of the Roman people in the last few weeks: A Capuchin friar who prefers wearing his brown friar’s habit to the scarlet red vestments of a cardinal, O’Malley’s simplicity is accessible and endearing. Known for cleaning house in Boston after the sex abuse scandal erupted there in 2002, and enjoying wide contacts with the Church in Latin America, O’Malley also benefits from the fact that there are three other well-placed Franciscan cardinals in the conclave: the archbishop of Durban, South Africa, the former archbishop of Seville, Spain, and a Brazilian cardinal who worked at the Vatican. If these men started promoting the candidacy of their fellow Franciscan among their compatriots, the O’Malley bandwagon could gain steam quickly as Wojtyla’s candidacy did in 1978. The difference: O’Malley is an American, and some cardinals will hesitate to turn the papacy over to anyone from a country they think controls enough of the world already.