Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Matthew Bunson’s “Pope Francis”

Bunson Francis.gifPapal biographies are beginning to show in the marketplace. The Italian Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli has a contract with Ignatius Press to produce, Francis: Pope of a New World.

The latest and US-written book is Matthew E. Bunson’s Pope Francis (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013).
Bunson sets for himself a task to think about the horizons of the new papacy. Still, there is a lot of unknowns with regard to Francis leading me to think this will be a pope of surprises.
Pre-order now. Pope Francis is expected to be available for shipping on April 4.

Francis writes to Adolfo: thanks for prayers and unconditional service to the Church and Christ’s Vicar

Here is the letter of Pope Francis to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás in response to Jesuit’s letter to His Holiness last week (which you can read here). No mincing of words: thank you for prayers and pledge, an assurance of the Jesuits unconditional service to the Church and the Vicar of Christ. A very debatable position of the Jesuits in the last 50 years. As you can see in the photo, Father General went to visit with the Pope this week.

Dear Father Nicolás,

Adolfo and Francis.jpg

I received with great joy the kind letter you sent me, in your name and that of the Society of Jesus, on the occasion of my election to the See of Peter, in which you assure me of your prayers for me and my apostolic ministry as well as your full disposition to continue serving – unconditionally – the Church and the Vicar of Christ according to the teachings of St. Ignatius Loyola. My heartfelt thanks for this sign of affection and closeness, which I am happy to reciprocate, asking the Lord to illuminate and accompany all Jesuits, so that faithful to the charism received and following in the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order, they may be evangelical leaven in the world in their pastoral action, but above all in the witness of a life totally dedicated to the service of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, seeking unceasingly the glory of God and the good of souls.

With these sentiments, I ask all Jesuits to pray for me and to entrust me to the loving protection of the Virgin Mary, our Mother in heaven, while as a sign of God’s abundant graces, I give you the Apostolic Blessing with special affection, which I also extend to all those who cooperate with the Society of Jesus in her activities, those who benefit from her good deeds and participate in her spirituality.


Vatican, 16 March 2013

Pope meets 
with Vatican gardeners and cleaners


The L’Osservatore Romano reported today that “When we have a heart of stone it happens that we pick up real stones and stone Jesus Christ in the person of our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest of them. Pope Francis said this, commenting on the day’s Readings during the Mass he celebrated on Friday morning in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

It was a simple celebration to which the Pope invited employees of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State. He gave them a brief homily, focused in particular on the Gospel passage of John which recounts the episode of the Jews who wanted to stone Jesus.


Work for the good of every person on earth: fight spiritual and material poverty, Pope exhorts

Speaking in French today, Pope Francis gave his talk in Italian outlined to the world’s diplomats the mission of his pontificate: building peace AND constructing bridges of dialogue,  combatting spiritual AND material poverty. This is part 2 of his “pontifical program of ministry.” The Pontiff met the more than 180 accredited diplomats in Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican.

English: world map of the Vatican foreign rela...

World map of the Vatican foreign relations; dark green: diplomatic relations, light green: other relations, gray: no official relations (credit: Wikipedia)

Heartfelt thanks to your Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of everyone present. It gives me joy to welcome you for this exchange of greetings: a simple yet deeply felt ceremony, that somehow seeks to express the Pope’s embrace of the world. Through you, indeed, I encounter your peoples, and thus in a sense I can reach out to every one of your fellow citizens, with their joys, their troubles, their expectations, their desires.

Your presence here in such numbers is a sign that the relations between your countries and the Holy See are fruitful, that they are truly a source of benefit to mankind. That, indeed, is what matters to the Holy See: the good of every person upon this earth! And it is with this understanding that the Bishop of Rome embarks upon his ministry, in the knowledge that he can count on the friendship and affection of the countries you represent, and in the certainty that you share this objective. At the same time, I hope that it will also be an opportunity to begin a journey with those few countries that do not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, some of which were present at the Mass for the beginning of my ministry, or sent messages as a sign of their closeness – for which I am truly grateful.

As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism,” which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.

One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.

pontiff with dips.jpg

In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.

Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment. The Pope said:

Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you again for all the work that you do, alongside the Secretariat of State, to build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity. Through you, I would like to renew to your Governments my thanks for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of my election, and my heartfelt desire for a fruitful common endeavor. May Almighty God pour out his gifts on each one of you, on your families and on the peoples that you represent. Thank you!

Pope moves Holy Thursday rites to a juvenile prison

Bergoglio washes feet of the young.JPG

The Holy See Press Office said today that Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the juvenile prison ‘Casal del Marmo’ in Rome. Known as Maundy Thursday is the first of the Three Sacred Days in Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday; this Liturgy is rooted John 13. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. The Mass on Holy Thursday recalls that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example of love, of service ; the washing of the feet known as the ‘mandatum.’ 

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as you can note in the picture, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio celebrated Mass in a prison, hospital or hospice for poor and marginalized people. This move from Saint John Lateran to the prison is consistent with Francis’ previous pastoral priorities.

On 18 March 2007, Pope Benedict offered Mass in this same prison.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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