So I welcomed Pope Francis in with a bang last night on the way back from a Communion call. No one hurt, thank God. And, no, I would prefer not to share the details, not because they are embarrassing (of course), but because I would not want to imply that any differences between English and American driving laws had anything to do with it. And no, there was no alcohol involved. For the fact that I am still here to write about it, and in doing so perfect health, and that no one else was hurt, I thank God, Our Lady, St. Francis and my Guardian Angel. Nuff said.
I was will have more to say about our new dear Holy Father in the coming days, just as soon as I get the insurance details ironed out and have a few moments to get un-rattled.
He is a pastor of sound doctrine and of concrete realism. To the Argentines he has given much more than bread. He has urged them to pick the catechism back up again. That of the ten commandments and of the beatitudes. “This is the way of Jesus,” he would say. And one who follows Jesus understands that “trampling the dignity of a woman, of a man, of a child, of an elderly person is a grave sin that cries out to heaven,” and therefore decides to do it no more.
The simplicity of his vision makes itself felt in his holiness of life. With his few and simple first words as pope he immediately won over the crowd packed into St. Peter’s Square. He had them pray in silence.
And here one comes to the heart of the agenda of the new pope. Because that which Benedict XVI defined as the “priority” of his pontificate will be the same for his successor as well.
“The real problem at this moment of our history,” pope Ratzinger wrote in a memorable letter to the bishops, “is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.”
Everything else that the cardinals discussed before the conclave, the mismanagement of the curia and of Vatican finances, the long onslaught of sexual scandals, the internecine wars among churchmen, is nothing other than the dark side of this which is the Church’s reason for being: “to show men and women the way to God.”
It is the “filth” which must be swept away decisively, if one wishes the Church to be able to dedicate itself completely, without shadows obscuring it, to its sole and true mission: to revive the Christian faith where it is almost extinguished and to propagate it where it has not yet arrived.
At some point soon, I will also respond to the naysayers and “new pope/no hope” evangelists. But not just yet. This is not the Devil’s due. For now we should just rejoice and give thanks.
It is still awesome that he took the name Francis.