Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis

I have refrained from responding to the immediate assessments of Pope Francis because I wanted to spend some time in prayer today asking God to be with him as he undertakes this monumental endeavor for our behalf.

My affection for him continues to grow as I get to know him better through the media. In the first  instance, I simply pray for his health at age 76. A Jesuit friend remarked a decade ago that men seem to noticeably age when they reach 77. As Pope Francis only has one lung, I hope his body holds out for quite some time. The demands of the modern papacy are exponentially more difficult than even ten years ago and I hope the ministry energizes him rather than depletes him.

I also know that a role can change the man, and with Francis, I think the man can change the role. I'm delighted that he approaches his ministry as a pastor. He is known as a man to give "voice to the voiceless and vulnerable," which is so good because most of the world is voiceless and vulnerable. A pastor can always learn from his people. Listening to the hard stories of faith changes a pastor's heart, and I have no doubt that he will intercede for those most vulnerable. I like a man who can evolve.

I'm delighted that he has Jesuit roots. His life is formed by the Spiritual Exercises and its suscipe, an offering on oneself. Even though his name calls to mind Franciscan theology, he retains an Ignatian heritage. I've often thought Ignatius ought to be a Doctor of the Church because his Spiritual Exercises continue to heal and save many wounded souls. However, marrying the Franciscan and Ignatian heritages is a stroke of genius.

Pope Francis comes from a religious order tradition. The vowed life of poverty, chastity, and obedience informs his way of proceeding. It keeps him separated from the Curial mindset. The world of a secular priest operates from a different culture, not good or bad, just different from a religious order perspective.

The Spiritual Exercises are about bringing a person freely to salvation. Freedom is operative. Perhaps Francis can build the church with spiritual freedom - a blend of two spiritualities.

In Latin church that runs on an Orthodox calendar, we find ourselves with scriptural readings that talk about "restoring life," where Elijah gives life to the widow of Zarephath's deceased son, where Jesus heals the widow of Nain's son, and Paul gets new life by becoming a disciple of the risen Jesus. New life seems to be the hope for the church right now. God seems to have put in place Pope Francis at the right time in the Church's life. God has entrusted a weakened, ill Church to a man who cares for it deeply. It is simply a time to rejoice and breathe in the omnipresent Holy Spirit of life.

All for the greater glory of God.


  1. Freedom with Pope Francis.
    I have been praying the last few weeks that we would receive
    a gift such as Pope Francis. My prayer was for the gift to come
    from South America and his election was an ecstatic moment for me
    and one of profound thanksgiving.
    I am who I am because of the Jesuits who invited me to learn
    for its own reward; to seek truth in all things and to be fearless
    in defending the rights of all God's children wherever and whenever
    they grace our way. One lung with great love and compassion is
    will be enough.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I'm glad your prayers were answered. I'm delighted too and surprised that it happened. I'm glad to know you are part of the Jesuit family. You are right: one lung and his compassion will rebuild our church.