Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By John Klink

3/18/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Europe

Archaeologists find a very different type of 'treasure' - a 2,000-year-old toilet seat Watch

Image of Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Accustomed to finding priceless coins, artwork and historical artifacts, archaeologists in Great Britain have found an altogether different type of treasure - one that was desperately needed in ancient times - a wooden toilet seat, believed to be 2,000 years ... continue reading


Over 1,400 girls raped and abused by Muslims in English town Watch

Image of For more than 12 years a large community of Pakistanis living in England have enjoyed sexually abusing girls while officials turned a blind eye a new report reveals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over a 12 year period, hundreds of children were systematically raped, beaten and sex trafficked in a northern English town, and the government commissioned report on the incident reveals that it is still going on today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Guilty? Corruption case moves forward against the head of International Monetary Fund Watch

Image of Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, who is facing charges currently in France.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and one of the most powerful women in the world, has been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as a French finance minister. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Scandalous details come to light over defrocked nuncio's abuse of young boys Watch

Image of Shoeshine boys int he Dominican Republic say that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual acts.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Loathsome details have come to light over defrocked Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Shoeshine boys say that Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual ... continue reading


Archbishop appeals his defrocking for sexual abuse allegedly committed in Dominican Republic Watch

Image of If found guilty in a criminal trial, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic, which has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, from Poland, is accused of child sex abuse while he served in the Dominican Republic. He has since appealed against a Roman Catholic tribunal's decision to defrock him, according to the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Are there more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for British military? Watch

Image of Many young men facing poor job prospects in the U.K. find the IS narrative of defending Islam hard to resist.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a shocking figure that has many questioning immigration laws. Britain's Ministry of Defense has confirmed that there are approximately 600 British Muslim service members in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. In a momentous slap to the West - and ... continue reading


British Archbishop demands Muslim leaders enforce discipline on youth or face the consequences Watch

Image of George Carey, a former Archbishop recently spoke on the dangers of the Islamic State, as well as the British Muslims who go overseas to fight for it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has called for Britons that are fighting for the Islamic State to be banished from Britain. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lord George Carey of Clifton said that Muslims must  discipline their young people, or see them ... continue reading


Pontifical Council Statement on the Violence in Iraq Watch

Image of Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis:

By Vatican Radio

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious ... continue reading


British rapper makes 14-year-old girl post sex video online Watch

Image of The girl, who can't be named for legal reasons, accepted a friend request from rapper Logik, whose real name is Kyle Burns.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a sick incident that highlights what's going on around the eyes and ears of semi-attentive parents. A British rapper who goes under the stage name of "Logik" asked a 14-year-old girl to pose an indecent 60-second video of herself to which he promised ... continue reading


A new tomb may be the burial place of Alexander the Great Watch

Image of This road leads up to a newly discovered tomb which could hold the remains of one of Alexander the Great's generals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered an immense tomb that they believe may be connected with Alexander the Great, whose conquests stretched from Greece to India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This tomb, which dates to around 300 BC, may have held the body ... 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, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:17-29
17 Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2014 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only ... 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