These are the words that announce the election of a new pope and his identity. In this case, it is Jorge Mario Bergoglio who will be known as Pope Francis. He is the first Pope to use this name.
Francis is a most appropriate name as St. Francis Xavier was one of the founders of his order of the Society of Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi was an example of humility and showing by actions the evangelization of the Christian faith.
In a long time-honored tradition in the history of the Catholic Church, the eligible Cardinals who are qualified to participate meet in the Sistine Chapel to choose a successor to Peter as the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Catholic Church. They do so in absolute privacy so they are free of outside influences to affect their deliberations and choice. Much is made of the fact that this is done in “secrecy” but that is said blithely and ignoring the fact that the absence of undue influence is paramount so that the Cardinals can prayerfully make their selection of the new Pope.
Pope Francis is the first non-European to serve in this capacity since the 8th Century. He is the first Pope from the Americas and from the Southern Hemisphere. He is a Jesuit and leads a very humble life in a one room apartment and taking a bus to get to work. Quite remarkable for a cleric holding the high office of Cardinal. Now, what remarkable changes he will undergo as he follows in the footsteps of St. Peter as his successor in leadership of this Catholic Church!
Those are the basics about his background. But, what are his positions on critical theological issues? According to Wikipedia, he vigorously opposes abortion and euthanasia as part of “the culture of death.” Wikipedia, also, reports, “(h)e has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are homosexual. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it a "real and dire anthropological throwback". In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: "Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God." He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church's tone was reminiscent of ‘medieval times and the Inquisition’.
“In the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America, Pope Francis I, as Cardinal Bergoglio, commented on the worthiness of individuals to receive the Eucharist. The text states in paragraph 436 that, ‘We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals’."
In light of these comments, his beliefs, and background, what will he do in his new, important and awesome position? Obviously, it is too soon to know and anything stated is mere speculation of no more validity than tea reading. We can only hope and pray that he will do what is right and provide the theological and practical leadership as Supreme Pontiff to guide the Church during this 21st Century of its existence. After all, that is one of the first things that he asked of us as Pope.
Now, you know what I think and I would very much like to know what you think about this subject.
Let the light of our Lord shine upon you!
Ray Makowski, Co-Founder, Director and Secretary-Treasurer