By Nwachukwu Egbunike
Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio (formerly Archbishop of Buenos Aries, Argentina) was elected the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
The Man, the Pope
Francis, the (266th Pope), 265th Successor of Saint Peter, was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He was ordained a Jesuits priest on 13 December 1969 during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel.
Francis was novice master in San Miguel, where he also taught theology. He was Provincial for Argentina (1973-1979) and rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel (1980-1986). After completing his doctoral dissertation in Germany, he served as a confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba. On 20 May 1992 he was appointed titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, receiving Episcopal consecration on 27 June. On 3 June 1997 was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998. He is also Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite.
Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.He served as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.Created and proclaimed Cardinal by the Bl. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).
His First Speech
On his first public appearance on assumption of the Sea of Peter, Pope Francis, said the following:
Brothers and sisters good evening.
You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.
First of all I would say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.
Glory to the Father…
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favour. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon.
We will see one another soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.
Good night and sleep well!
Francis I: Pope and Servant
There are many significant telling from this Pope’s first appearance. First his name. Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Franciscans – a religious institution in the Catholic Church. St Francis life is known for his love for poverty and strict adherence to the truths of faith. Besides, Francis of Assisi, though from a wealthy pedigree renounced all this wealth to embrace a life of strict ascetical discipline.
What does this tell us about Pope Francis? He intends to push the new evangelization of the Church through the basics – prayer and sacrifice. For the salvific mission of the mystical body of Christ to be accomplished, it must be rooted in the cross. It is only Christ who moves souls.
Secondly, Pope Francis is a Jesuit, a spiritual son of St Ignatius of Loyola. This congregation has defended the Church in ages past when things were not only difficult but dreadful. And they have done so following the footstep of their founder, St Ignatius, who also left what the world considers rich and powerful for a life of intense union with God. Also the Jesuits look upon themselves as servants of the Church and authorities. Looking for the defender of the Catholic doctrine, Pope Francis just fits the script.
Communication is not only what is said but what is left unsaid and the way it is said. Well Pope Francis just presented his manifesto – prayer, prayer, prayer! That’s why he asked the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for their prayers before imparting his apostolic benediction. It is imperative to bear this in mind, since the Church is a living organism of faithful surrounding their bishop. And in this case, the Bishop of Rome’s first petition is the blessing of his faithful.
But this is no surprise considering that the one who prays is the one who is humble enough to admit need. Pope Francis is 76 years old and he has been living with one lung for the past fifty years. He travels by bus, refused to stay in the archbishops’ palace but electing rather to live in a modest flat. He trained as a chemist and in 2001 washed the feet of AIDS patients.
If there is any Pope that fully fits the description of a Servant of the servants of the people of God, then it’s Pope Francis. It takes much more than acting a script to put up his first appearance in the papal window. It takes a life that has been nurtured in prayer, grilled in sacrifice and subjected to the service of others for years. Looking for a Servant Pope, then Francis fits the description.
Pope Francis has no airs, he was not the media’s favourite. As a matter of fact, he name never came up in the radar of the so-called Vatican experts. Francis I is the fruit of the prayer of the whole church in a period of great trepidation. When faith is needed and a Pope who will not only bring God to the world but the world to God, relying only on the strength that comes from above. May God keep him and preserve him; granting him the fortitude to carry this heavy but sweet weight as shepherd of Catholics and unifying father of all Christians.