So we have a new pope now! We watched the livestream at the Diocesan Catholic Center today, and after Pope Francis gave his first blessing, truth be told, there was not a dry eye in the room.
There are a lot of firsts with his election: he is the first Jesuit, the first pope from the Latin America and the Western Hemisphere, and the first pope to take the name of Francis. I was originally going to title this blog post “Habemus Papam Americae Latinae,” but I felt the real story is about the man, not where he’s from.
A lot of people may think how great it is that we have a Latin American pope. As a Hispanic, I too feel a certain level of affinity for our new Holy Father. BUT that’s not why we love him. I’m kind of reminded of an incident eight years ago when Pope Benedict was elected – a friend of mine who was a member of the College Republicans told me how excited he was because Benedict was a “conservative” pope. I responded that I was excited because he was the pope. He was a little taken aback by that.
The thing that many people forget to realize is that as Catholics, we believe the pope is elected under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – that whomever is in that office is who God wants to lead the Church, to keep His promise that we will continue. So we should give thanks to the Holy Spirit for giving us a pope, who happens to be from Latin America. But that same thanks should be offered had he been from Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada, or TEXAS (maybe next time, Cardinal DiNardo), because it means Christ has kept his promise.
The first Jesuit pope picked the name Francis. Rocco Palmo from Whispers in the Loggia commented that this is a sign of him bridging two distinct heritages within the Church. We do know that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he gave up his mansion and chauffer for a stove-heated apartment and public transportation, and like St. Francis of Assisi, he connected with the poor. As a Jesuit, the name may also represent his love for St. Francis Xavier. Or (high hopes here), he could have a devotion to the patron saint of journalists, St. Francis de Sales, and his commitment to re-evangelizing the people.
Either way, Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, has a heavy task ahead of him as pope, and he deserves our prayers. In the meantime, expect ongoing coverage from the NTC, including several local pieces coming your way soon.
— Tony GutiérrezAssociate Editor