Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pope We Need

Amidst the eager anticipation of last week’s papal conclave, people all over the world “weighed in” as to what qualities the new Holy Father would need to possess. Certainly there is something natural about this. In fact, for the Cardinal-electors, those discussions were necessary. We live in a particular time with its own particular cultural, economic, socio-political and religious questions. The Church needs to grapple with these questions so that, led by the new Pope, she may preach the gospel to our modern age in a way that is intelligible and fruitful.

However, many of the pre-conclave discussions, both among the media and among faithful Catholics, devolved into lists of “papal-probables” and sure-fire predictions based heavily upon human understanding. Then, Pope Francis appeared on the balcony and it became clear that the Holy Spirit had not consulted our lists! It was a great reminder that God’s ways are not our ways! Though Cardinal Bergoglio was not at the top of too many lists, we were immediately won over by this seemingly humble, serene, and joyful man who greeted us with an affectionate, warm smile and the words “Buona Serra.” Indeed, Pope Francis is a living sign of the goodness, poverty and simplicity of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, and his embrace of the Franciscan spirit is an inspiration to the Church and to people everywhere!

The pope is not like the President of a country who runs for office or the CEO of a multi-national corporation who has climbed the corporate ladder. Rather, he is the Vicar of Christ on earth chosen by the Holy Spirit ultimately to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Kingdom of God! I can think of no better way of doing this than leading the Church in the footsteps of the poor man of Assisi! Que Viva el Papa!

Pax et bonum,
Fr. Isaac Mary Spinharney, CFR
St. Joseph Friary
Harlem, NY
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