Habemus Papum!

ABC News’ report is here.  He is from Argentina.  His name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

Here is the Catholic Herald’s profile of the new pope, which has this to say:

And then, of course, there is that Trappist silence. His press secretary, a young priest, spends his time interpreting what the Cardinal does not say. The other part of his job is to turn down, on Bergoglio’s behalf, interviews or invitations to write articles. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires has almost no published work, and seems to become less visible with each passing year.

When he does speak, however – in the annual Te Deums preached from the cathedral – it is dramatic. Bergoglio thunders like an Old Testament prophet; the government quakes in its boots.

Zenit says this about the significance of the choice of the name Francis:

Pope Francis has worked with the Curia, but he is an outsider, not an insider. He said the cardinals went to the “end of the earth” to find him. And he picks a name not ever used before. This marks something new. Francis of Assisi was asked by God to rebuild his Church. He at first thought it was the run-down church of San Damiano. He soon learned it was the whole Church, through a humble living of the Gospel.  Pope Francis I will be a man of reform. He has an Italian last name but a new fresh perspective. It will not be business as usual in Rome for long.

Here is John Allen’s profile.

And Sandro Magister’s, which includes this anecdote:

Someone in the Vatican had the idea to call him to direct an important dicastery. “Please, I would die in the Curia,” he implored.  They spared him.

He is spared no longer.

Philosopher John Haldane’s has this take over at First Things.

Lorenzo Albacete has this wonderful reflection on the true significance of the papacy:

Their reports sought to explain the events in Rome in terms of the election of American presidents. Some of the comparisons were clever and descriptive. Reports also dealt with the religious basis of the events. Even prayer and the Holy Spirit made their appearance in the reports.

Still, very few if any overcame the error mentioned at the beginning of this column, namely, the Church was looking for a leader who would be able and strong to clean up the scandal-ridden administration, and spiritual enough to attract the diversity of people for which other religions are competing as well as a secularism threatening all.

But this is not how we understand the mission of the Pope.

Before being someone with a job to do, he is the one sent to us to hear, see, and touch, whose physical presence is what links us to Christ. He is the custodian of the Incarnation.

My thoughts:  The news media seem to understand the Church on an analogy with a certain U.S. political party that recently lost an election decisively and is now repositioning itself on the issues in order to make itself more attractive to certain groups of voters.  The Church is not like that. Her obligation is to the truth; popularity is irrelevant.  The Church cannot change her teachings, even to become more popular or more modern.  She cannot teach one thing at one time, and the opposite thing at another time.  If she ever did, then she must be wrong at one of the times or the other or both.  But if the Church were ever wrong that would undermine her claim to possess teaching authority.  Each generation of Church leaders has the sacred obligation hold on to the deposit of faith, i.e., the teachings of the Church, handed down to them by the previous generation of Church leaders and by all the generations that came before them for 2,000 years all the way back to Peter, to proclaim those teachings to the world in their time, and in turn to pass them down  whole and uncorrupted to the next generation of Church leaders that will come after them.  The relentless focus in the news media on what the choice of new pope may portend for changes in Church teaching fails to appreciate the claims that the Church makes about herself.


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