Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam

Today, when Pope Francis asked the People of God to bow their heads in silence and bless him, before he blessed them, I could not help but smile. And then, sitting in front of the television, I sent forth my prayers just like our brothers and sisters in St. Peter's Square. Here was an approachable and humble man, dare I say a holy man, or so my first impression told me. After reading John Allen's pre-conclave profile of him, I trust those instincts even more. Cardinal Bergoglio's papal name seems well chosen.

As auspicious as that name is, however, it should also serve as a sort of cautionary tale. Our new pope's namesake was indeed directed by Jesus himself to rebuild the Church. That is reason enough to excite the horde of Catholics who published papal wish lists prior to the conclave. But do we love Francis of Assisi because he was so successful or so faithful? After all, his own religious order pushed him aside during his lifetime. So let us be wary of ecclesial fantasy-lands and utopian dreams, while at the same time opening ourselves to all that this new Francis has to give to us.

For that is what a pope is, a gift from the Holy Spirit to all of God's family. Let us pray for our Brother Francis, that he serve our family well.