Yes, I know. Many of us don’t ‘have’ a pope, thankyouverymuch. We muddle on through somehow.
Francis I, eh? That’s an unusual choice in a number of ways. Francis I is a Jesuit and not a Franciscan, so why not choose Ignatius I? My suspicion regarding his choice has to do with the way the former Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio lived his daily life in Argentina. Instead of a suite in the episcopal palace, he rented an apartment (or room); instead of using the episcopal limousine which comes with his job, the Cardinal rode the bus to work.
Francis is the first Jesuit Pope. That ought to thoroughly terrify the paranoids who think the Black Robes really run the place — but let’s not go down that street, okay? Jesuits are a mixed bag, and for every evil conniver, I can show you a scientist, musician, or doctor. Those men are hard to classify. Often they choose the Jesuits later in life than many diocesan priests enter the seminary. For example, this former Cardinal received his master’s degree in chemistry before choosing to study for the priesthood. As anyone familiar with the rigorous training of Jesuit seminarians can tell you about the long and arduous Ignatian Spiritual Formation Exercises, especially those done in preparation for ordination. They are not for the faint of heart.
Many lay Catholics also follow the steps of spiritual formation known as Ignatian spirituality. I think those exercises are suited to a particular characterolgocial make-up. That is, they aren’t for everyone. But for those who follow in the steps of Ignatius Loyola, it is a worthy and ageless system.
For a quick introduction to the new pope, the Acton Institute has a short list of “Things You Should Know About Francis”:
1. Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. His father was an Italian immigrant. 2. He’s the first pope from South America. The only remaining continents that have never had a pope come from their lands are Australia, Antarctica, and North America. 3. He’s the first Jesuit pope. 4. He only has one lung. His other lung was removed due to infection when he was a teenager. 5. Bergoglio is known for his personal simplicity. In Argentina he lived in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, cooked his own meals, and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work. 6. In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Bergoglio encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could “seriously injure the family” and that gay adoption would be “depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.” 7. He studied and received a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, but later decided to become a Jesuit priest and studied liberal arts at the Catholic seminary in Santiago, Chile. 8. At the age of 76, Francis is the ninth oldest pope of those elected after 1295. (Benedict, who was elected at the age of 78, was fifth oldest.) 9. Last year, Bergoglio compared Catholic priests who refused to baptize the children of unwed mothers to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church,” he said, adding, “Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit.”
Yes, as with all papal choices, there is controversy surrounding this former cardinal. Lots of criticism about whether he did or did not stand up sufficiently and publicly to the dictators in charge. For cardinals coming from totalitarian countries or totalitarian times, that charge is inescapable. If a church leader speaks out too loudly, he pushes the tyrants into a corner. If he doesn’t say enough publicly he is accused of being in bed with the regime.
So I’ll leave the sorting of those controversies to those with better discernment than I. For me, it is enough to observe the way he lives and to listen to what he says to the priests he is supposed to guide. In this mostly political look at Pope Francis, Politico features an AP report on the new man:
He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.
He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.
“Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit,” Bergoglio told Argentina’s priests last year.
If that sounds like the Marxist-based “Liberation Theology”, it’s not. Francis preaches scripturally-based homilies to his priests and he demands their service to all their flock. This Argentinean pope has criticized both the oligarchs and the murderous rebels.
There won’t be any Hans Küng globalist pronouncements here. No doubt The New York Times has already gotten his viewpoint out to their readers. Küng has been the house priest for the Old Grey Doxy for some years now.
Let’s end this brief look at Francis I with a glance back at Benedict in the last days of his papacy. This bit of news doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention, but then canonizing people is so… so medieval, right? Or maybe I missed the headlines because I avoid the MSM buzz. At any rate, before his abdication, one of Benedict’s last papal acts was to canonize eight hundred people who were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks for refusing to convert to Islam.
Enza Ferreri tells the story:
Antonio Primaldo and his companions, 800 Christians, were murdered for hatred of their faith by Muslims during the Turkish siege of the town of Otranto, in South-East Italy, on August 13, 1480.
As the Qur’an commands, these infidels were offered the choice to convert to Islam or be killed. When they refused to convert, the martyrs of Otranto were massacred.
The Qur’an is obeyed and applied in the same way now as it was in 1480. The only difference between now and then is in the power and military force Muslim armies had then but now. Let’s make sure that it remains this way in the West.
In other parts of the world, Christians are still massacred by Muslims for their faith. Nothing has changed in Islamic doctrine, only the relationship of strength can be a defence for whomever Muslims consider their enemies.
An observation about the different use of the word “martyr”: in Christianity, unlike in Islam, martyrs do not kill. [my emphasis —D]
By the way, Ms. Ferreri notes she is starting a new Facebook page, “Save the West”. For those of our readers with Facebook access, ‘liking’ her page would seem a worthy endeavor.
Addendum: After finishing up, I tried to open Francis Porretto’s website to congratulate his fine self on the occasion of (finally) having a Pope named after him. When I clicked onto Eternity Road, there was the Message of Death:
Blog has been removed
Sorry, the blog at eternityroad.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.
Google is your friend. So is Bing…in no time I’d found Francis’ Twitter account and his new home, Bastion of Liberty, where he has been blogging until very recently (March 9).
I do hope Mr. Porretto is appropriately humbled by the new Pope’s choice of name. And I do hope the new Pope wears it as well as has Mr. Porretto, lately of Eternity Road…