Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By John Klink

3/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A friend who was standing beside me, who is a long-time Vatican hand, said succinctly, 'That is literally stunning'

Francis made a particular point on the balcony to bow and literally listen to his people as the first act of being their pastor.  And he asked them to bless him and pray for him before he would bless them.  In that instant he incarnated his sometime surprising, but quintessential papal title: "The Servant of the Servants of God."

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Highlights

By John Klink

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis, Conclave, St Peters, Papa Francesco, Holy Father Francis, John Klink


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - I have had the privilege to come on pilgrimage to Rome this week for the Conclave.

Wednesday night, as I came out of a memorable meeting with Thai Cardinal Michai, with whom I worked many years ago during the Cambodian Refugee Crisis, I found people coming in droves to Piazza San Pietro.  They were coming in keen expectation to check out the color of the smoke that was due to be emitted from the Sistine Chapel stove pipe at any minute. All of the previous puffs had been black.

It was raining lightly, and the piazza seemed a sea of umbrellas.

I shared a general feeling that the time was propitious for the conclusion of the Conclave.

After about 15 minutes of watching the distant stove pipe, there was a wave of breaking voices announcing that their individual hopes had been realized: "E' bianco!!" ("It's white!").

For the first time in 600 years we now had two popes--one emeritus, and one about whom we were to immediately learn both his name and his spiritual profile, and then to "meet him" as he assumed his unique place on the world stage.

The nationalities represented amongst the Saint Peter's pilgrims gave witness that the apostles had faithfully fulfilled the Master's mandate to leave their home and bring the Good News to all nations.

Under the umbrellas one could hear the question being posed from one friend to another: "So, who do you think it is? Scola, Ouellet, Scherer?"-- referring to the front runner cardinals predicted with presumed infallibility by the secular press.

By this time, the piazza was becoming more and more populated, and the rain was letting up enough to allow the umbrellas to begin to fold.

Despite the enormous expanse of the piazza, standing space was becoming tight as people edged further and further toward the balcony above St Peter's central entry doors to catch a closer glimpse of Benedict's and Peter's successor.

The now-compressed crowd waited patiently for about 50 minutes as an Italian military band marched forward and positioned itself in a space reserved between the crowd and the basilica.

Attention focused on huge TV screens which ranged between shots of the white-smoked chimney, individuals in the crowd, and landscape views of the basilica, or close-ups of the huge clock.  Cheers emerged when the lights of the vast rooms behind and on either side of the balcony became lit.

Close-ups then began of the balcony itself and its closed glass doors from which Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the French ProtoDeacon in charge of the Vatican's relations with Muslims, was expected to emerge.  (The press had even speculated that had he not emerged, and had another cardinal been poised to make the announcement in his place, that fact would have itself told the story that C. Tauran was the Conclave's choice as he was also deemed "papabile").

Finally, further cheers when the drapes were drawn on the balcony doors and Cardinal Tauran did emerge.

As his light voice began to utter the age old formula: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum
", a stunned hush fell upon the crowd as everyone looked at one another with the question, "Chi?," "Who?"

A friend who was standing beside me, who is a long-time Vatican hand, said succinctly, "That is literally stunning."

The silence continued as the camera focused on the seemingly similarly stunned Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires who came hesitatingly to the balcony like a martyr to the lions -- willing, but visibly hesitant.  He looked in long silence upon the sea of humanity, who in turn gazed in expectation from the dark plaza below and the Via della Conciliazione beyond.

The new pope  waited patiently for the Italian military band to perform its requisite pieces.

As the crowd anticipated the reassuring signs of jubilant papal warmth and waves, the cameras focused on a man dressed in simple white without the usual scarlet cape and heavy papal stole. His arms hung almost manikin like as he gazed through large glasses without a smile.  My friend and I both remarked,  "I hope he smiles. This could be a PR disaster."

We also recalled the strange similarity to the Italian movie we had recently seen, "Habemus Papam" which portrayed a newly elected and terrified pope as even afraid to come to the balcony.

This was our first inkling that this is going to be a very new papal chapter.

At this point, another mutual friend next to us broke the stunned silence in the piazza by beginning a loud chant that the crowd picked up: "FRAN/CHESS/KO", "FRAN/CHESS/KO".  A second "Francesco" had just been immediately adopted by his new Italian flock and was about to be adopted by his global one.

Later, at dinner that night with some traditionalist Catholic friends, we were left scrambling as to what had just happened (Francis spoke rather than chanted the blessing, he wore the simplest of robes, he evinced absolutely no triumphal demeanor).  Reportedly, the more liberal members of the new pope's Jesuit Order are similarly befuddled.  (Francis evidently never allowed the Jesuits in Argentina to get involved in the politics of Liberation Theology).  Francis is the first Jesuit pope, and the first Pope Francis:  "And he could have been Pope Ignatius."

In Catholic terms the Cardinals' pick is a total paradox: a Jesuit "Franciscan"--or possibly a Franciscan Jesuit: a man of orthodox theology who has eschewed many of the trappings of his office in order to witness to his religious vows, especially of poverty.

Francis made a particular point on the balcony to bow and literally listen to his people as the first act of being their pastor.  And he asked them to bless him and pray for him before he would bless them.  In that instant he incarnated his sometime surprising, but quintessential papal title: "The Servant of the Servants of God."

The imagery of his personal introduction on the balcony for his Urbi et Orbi blessing evoked an unprecedented statement of humility of "it's not about him." He is first and foremost the new migrant bishop of the Rome Diocese (not the Pope who happens to be the Bishop of Rome), of unscripted gestures (he barely lifted his arms, let  alone waved), of gratitude to his remarkable predecessor, calling his local and global flock to simple prayer ("the basics": the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be), and perhaps most striking for those in attendance -- he instantly brought  the enormous crowd to embrace silence in order to let the Holy Spirit speak to them and then to pray together in a silent bond (with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in attendance one could only and distinctly hear the fountains when he called the people to pray).

The quiet pope (he spoke extemporaneously for a maximum of 5 minutes) chose not to wear many of the traditional and colorful trappings of his office and did not wear his stole except when actually giving his blessing. And he then immediately handed it back.

Papa Francesco is a fascinating mix and leaves no one -- even the Vatican curia -- feeling that they can predict where he will lead. Tellingly?, he has not yet reinstated the heads of the Vatican dicasteries who serve at his pleasure.

The day following his election, the Supreme Pontiff insisted on stopping by to personally pay his pre-Conclave hotel bill from his own wallet and left the Vatican unannounced in a VW to pray to Our Lady at St. Mary Major and kneel at the tomb of Pope Pius V.

His iron pectoral cross and chain are a simple but conspicuous statement, as is his directive to his fellow Argentine bishops, priests, and nuns to not come to Rome for the papal installation but to stay at home and direct whatever money they would have spent, on the poor.

As Peggy Noonan has reported, a friend recounted that several years ago he had approached the then-Archbishop to ask if he could suggest any place to live for his fellow congregation members who were moving to Buenos Aires to devote themselves to the poor.  The Archbishop had an immediate suggestion.  Would they consider moving into his predecessors' palace that he had himself left to live in a small apartment?  "It has many rooms."

Papa Francesco is giving quiet, personal witness from the bulliest pulpit of all.  He is leading the way for his followers to leave many comfort zones in order to be led unabashedly by the Holy Spirit, and in so doing he is dutifully assuming his role of global shepherd for his people.

Papa Bergoglio, the migrant bishop from South America, will give an audience to the World Press tomorrow morning.

Those journalists, like all those I have spoken with since the white smoke came from the Sistine Chapel, will witness that the first pages of this newest chapter of Church history are filled with promise.

-----------------------------------------------

John Klink is the President of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), a Papally-Founded Commission which provides protection to vulnerable refugees and displaced and trafficked persons.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Europe

Did a broken heart lead to mass slaughter? Germanwings co-pilot said to be 'depressed' and 'stressed' Watch

Image of Remembered as a friendly and funny personality, Andreas Lubitz had a life-long obsession to become a pilot. There is speculation that he feared his flying license - due to expire in just three months time would not have been renewed on medical grounds.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The willful destruction of himself - along with 149 other, innocent human beings, has the world scrambling for answers. Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who slammed his plane into mountainside earlier this week. Killing everyone onboard, remains a ... continue reading


DEADLY SECRET: Co-pilot of doomed Germanwings flight hid medical condition, authorities say Watch

Image of A terrible tragedy that left 150 people dead may have been the result of a frightened, insecure man hiding a medical condition. Investigators say that Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz was keeping an unspecified medical condition secret from others.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A terrible tragedy that left 150 people dead may have been the result of a frightened, insecure man hiding a medical condition. Investigators say that Germanwings copilot Andreas Lubitz was keeping an unspecified medical condition secret from others and had a ... continue reading


CO-PILOT LOCKED CAPTAIN OUT OF COCKPIT: Chilling last minutes of Germanwings Airbus crash revealed Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Investigators have recovered key information from the French Alps wrecked Germanwings Airbus A320's black box and voice recorder. The co-pilot, 28-year-old German, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed into a ... continue reading


STANDING FIRM: Nearly 500 British priests urge synod to stand firm on Communion for the remarried Watch

Image of An extraordinary synod last year provoked heated debate on the question of whether remarried Catholics should be permitted to receive Holy Communion, which was a proposal presented by retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nearly 500 British priests have signed a letter urging those attending this year's family synod to issue a "clear and firm proclamation" upholding Church teaching on marriage. An extraordinary synod last year provoked heated debate on the question of whether ... continue reading


Pope Francis sends message to families of victims in Germanwings' French Alps crash, as black box and cockpit recorder recovered Watch

Image of Families are hit with grief as the search for bodies continues.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

150 people were killed in the tragic Germanwings A320 Airbus crash in the snowy French Alps earlier this week. Pope Francis has come forward with some words of comfort for all those involved in the horrific accident. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis ... continue reading


GAS ATTACK FEARED: Islamist State may launch attack on London's Underground subway system Watch

Image of The 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway killed 13 people. Experts now fear that Islamist State agents returning to the United Kingdom will launch similar offenses.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State militants returning to the United Kingdom could attack London Underground trains or football matches with chlorine gas. That is the frightening estimation from chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a retired head of chemical and ... continue reading


Plane crash in French Alps: All 150 feared dead Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An airplane carrying 150 people crashed Tuesday in the French Alps. All 144 passengers and six crew members are presumed dead. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) A Germanwings Airbus A320 was traveling from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf  Germany. During mid ... continue reading


Spanish priest performs 13 exorcisms on anorexic girl Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Spanish priest and official exorcist of Valladolid, Jesus Hernandez Sahagun was arrested and is now facing charges of gender violence, causing injury and mistreatment, according to the Daily Mail. The priest has allegedly performed 13 exorcisms on the girl, who was ... continue reading


Pope Francis mobbed by cloistered nuns during Naples trip Watch

Image of The prison visit formed part of a very busy day for Pope Francis in the city 150 miles south of Rome.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mobbed by a group of excited nuns during his visit to Naples Cathedral, a cardinal exclaimed, "They are going to eat him!" Usually observing the rules of "papal enclosure" and rarely allowed to leave their nunneries, the sisters let out of their convents for ... continue reading


Bishop Williamson excommunicated - again, for illicitly ordaining bishop against papal orders Watch

Image of Bishop Williamson has criticized the leaders of the SSPX for being

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the second time, Bishop Richard Williamson has been automatically excommunicated -- along with the priest, he illicitly ordained a bishop. Williamson violated Church law when he ordained 73-year-old Father Jean-Michel Faure without papal approval during a ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 say, "The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall take the ... Read More

Psalm, Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12, 13
10 Listen, nations, to the word of Yahweh. On the ... Read More

Gospel, John 11:45-57
45 Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 28th, 2015 Image

St. Venturino of Bergamo
March 28: Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter