Pope Francis: March 2013 Archives

The Urbi et Orbi address, 2013, of the Bishop of Rome and Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis.


Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! 

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons...

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!

We too, like the women who were Jesus' disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom.

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594
Easter is yet again unfolded anew in our lives right now! Here is Pope Francis homily for the great and holy Vigil of Easter at the Vatican Basilica, 2013. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead as He said is a terrifying event in any person's life. As His Holiness said in his homily, "Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us." This newness, this new humanity given to us by the resurrected Lord, is a beautiful reminder that all is redeemed by the One who created us and Loves us now.

The key to the Christian journey, to the building of the Kingdom, to the witnessing to your hope is the openness to have the liturgical anamnesis, the awareness of grace being operative, of God's activity in life, my life, right now; the phrase Francis uses frequently is, "you won't be disappointed," the same one John Paul and Benedict used before him so many times.

The question is, can we be open enough to accept the surprises, are you willing not to be disappointed when confronted by a life of grace that contradicts an existence full of nihilism, skepticism, and boredom?

There are several wonderful points the Pope made, not least is this one that reminds me of Father Giussani:

They are asked to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives. 

Why do you seek the living among the dead? He isn't here -- He is risen!

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The homily:

In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord's body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: "What happened?", "What is the meaning of all this?" (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn't the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don't understand, we don't know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God's surprises; we are afraid of God's surprises! He always surprises us!

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Lent ends and the sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of Our Lord's Supper, with the rite of Washing of Feet (known also as the Mandatum). In Rome, the Pope offered Mass at the Casal del Marmo, an inner city detention center. In the chapel dedicated to the title of "Father of Mercies," were 40 young detainees gathered around him for Mass, 12 youth, Catholics and non-Christians, 2 of whom were young women and 2 Muslims, had their feet washed by the Pontiff. Concelebrating the Mass were Cardinal Agostino Vallini (the Pope's Vicar for the Diocese of Rome), Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu ('Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretary of State), Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, (Chaplain to the Casal del Marmo, and papal secretary), 2 deacons, one deacon from the Seminario San Carlo (the Seminary of the Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo) and another, Brother Roi Jenkins Albuen, a Capuchin of the "Addolorata" with Father Gaetano Greco.  Also there were two young seminarians from the Roman Seminary with the assistant chaplain, Colombian Father Pedro Acosta.

Pay attention to what the Pope says!!!!   Also, some photos.

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Here's Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father's unscripted homily:

"This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples.. 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do'.

Bishops around the world celebrate a Mass at which he blesses new oils used in the diocese for baptisms, pre-baptisms, Anointing of the Sick, ordinations, and other consecrations. Priests who attend renew their priestly commitment to be the Shepherds the Lord has called them to be. The laity present asked by the bishop to pray and fraternally support their priests in their holy mission. As bishop of Rome, Pope Francis does what other bishops have done. 

His homily today Pope Francis has a clear exhortation to all: living one's vocation is not business as usual, that you are made for another, that Christ has you to do His work. Mediocre priests and bishops are plentiful and the Pope wants to change this attitude. Thanks be to God. One gets the sense that deacons, priests and bishops who act like church bureaucrats (bishop's secretaries, curial officials, the pastor-king types, etc.) are not living their God-given vocation with consistency and love. Questions that arrive from pondering the homily: What type of priest does God give to us? What type of priest does the Church expect for the People of God? What type of priest do the People want/need? Can we continue to excuse priests who seem to be negligent of their own need for conversion and the People's? Wearing the sacred robes of the priest have a particular meaning for the pastoral care of souls. The ordained ministry impacts the priest's own conversion as well as the people who stand in front of  the priest.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, This morning I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with affection, especially you, dear priests, who, like myself, today recall the day of your ordination.

Anointing of Jesus/ From Augustine's "La ...

"Anointing of Jesus," St Augustine's "The City of God," book I-X.

The readings of our Mass speak of God's "anointed ones": the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God's faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed... A fine image of this "being for" others can be found in the Psalm: "It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe" (Ps 133:2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe.
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The Vatican Information Service reported today that a documentary will be published on the new pontificate. The documentary is titled, "Francesco - Elezione di un Papa che viene dalla fine del mondo" (Francis: Election of a Pope from the Ends of the Earth) ... made in collaboration with the Officina della Comunicazione (OC) and the Italian newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera.

The DVD will be distributed as a supplement to the Friday, 2 April edition of the newspaper." On its own the Italian version will cost 10.90 euro; English, Spanish and French editions are planned.

"The documentary registers the events following Pope Benedict XVI's renunciation of the papacy, the days of the Sede Vacante, and the conclave that brought the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope. Through images and previously unpublished interviews with four cardinals--Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter; Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals--it reconstructs the most important stages of this period, culminating in the meeting of the two pontiffs this past Saturday, 23 March, in Castel Gandolfo."

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The first Wednesday General Audience of Pope Francis was delivered today. Indeed, Pope Francis is moving us away from the narcissism in which we find ourselves, either personally, or as a Church. The Pope's text follows, and Vatican Radio's carrying of the English portion of the address.

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I am pleased to welcome you to my first general audience. With deep gratitude and veneration I am taking up the "witness" from the hands of my beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI. After Easter we will resume the catechesis on the Year of Faith. Today I would like to focus a little on Holy Week. With Palm Sunday we began this week - the center of the whole liturgical year - in which we accompany Jesus in His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

But what does it mean for us to live Holy Week? What does it means to follow Jesus on His way to the Cross on Calvary and the Resurrection? In His earthly mission, Jesus walked the streets of the Holy Land; He called twelve simple people to remain with Him, to share His journey and continue His mission; He chose them among the people full of faith in the promises of God. He spoke to everyone, without distinction, to the great and the lowly; to the rich young man and the poor widow, the powerful and the weak; He brought the mercy and forgiveness of God to all; He healed, comforted, understood, gave hope, He led all to the presence of God, who is interested in every man and woman, like a good father and a good mother is interested in each child. God did not wait for us to go to Him, but He moved towards us, without calculation, without measures. This is how God is: He is always the first, He moves towards us. Jesus lived the daily realities of most ordinary people: He was moved by the crowd that seemed like a flock without a shepherd, and He cried in front of the suffering of Martha and Mary on the death of their brother Lazarus; He called a tax collector to be His disciple and also suffered the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that He is with us, in our midst. "Foxes", Jesus said, "have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head" (Mt 8:20). Jesus did not have a home because His house is the people -- that is, us; His mission is to open all God's doors, to be the loving presence of God.

Have you been wondering what the Pope has published? Well, look no further. L'Osservatore Romano is publishing an article in tomorrow's edition on Francis' books. With Pope Francis leading the Church I think there will be a resurgence of Ignatian spirituality --as distinct from "Jesuit spirituality", inhabiting our Christian lives. I am sure these books will be published in various languages before long.

The first two books in Italian by Jorge Mario Bergoglio were presented on Tuesday, 26 March in the offices of Civiltà Cattolica. They are published by Editrice Missionaria Italiana (Emi): Umiltà, la strada verso Dio (Bologna, 2013,  64 pages, € 6.90, with an afterword by Enzo Bianchi) and Guarire dalla corruzione (Bologna 2013, 64 pages, € 6.90, with an afterword by Pietro Grasso) and are collections of  addresses that the Cardinal Archbishop of  Buenos Aires gave in 2005 to the faithful of the archdiocese.

Both books draw on the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola to describe  its deep inner workings and offer solutions to extremely pertinent phenomena such as corruption in both society and the Church, as well as the urgent need for an ecclesial life distinguished by brotherly holiness.

A papal brotherhood

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Only speculation exists at this point as to any of the details on the meeting of the Pope and the Pope emeritus, today at Castel Gandolfo (other than those revealed by the Press Officer for the Holy See, Father Lombardi, SJ, and those others allowed to witness an epic event): dress, the embrace, prayer together, a gift of an icon of Our Lady of Humility, a meal, and a 45 minute private meeting. There is a deep communion between the two of them. And there is no shortage of news making analysis, including Vatican Radio. The beautiful acknowledgement of Pope Francis was, and very emotionally charged, I believe, was his reference, "We are brothers."

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,

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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


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.


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.

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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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Francis' official portrait

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The official photo of Pope Francis, with his signature.

The Pope's pectoral cross has the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd (cf John 10:11), carrying the sheep on his shoulders, with the flock following him. The cross has been a part of the pope's person since he was a bishop in Buenas Aires, Argentina.

The Pope met today with Orthodox leaders, Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox, the Anglicans, other ecclesial communities and leaders of various other religions. Of particular interest is the personal meeting of Francis and Bartholomew; the Pope also met with Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rome Reports has a review of this important ecumenical meeting.

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First of all, heartfelt thanks for what my Brother Andrew told us. Thank you so much! Thank you so much!

It is a source of particular joy to meet you today, delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. Thank you for wanting to take part in the celebration that marked the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

Yesterday morning, during the Mass, through you , I recognized the communities you represent. In this manifestation of faith, I had the feeling of taking part in an even more urgent fashion the prayer for the unity of all believers in Christ, and together to see somehow prefigured the full realization of full unity which depends on God's plan and on our own loyal collaboration.

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis met with media

I don't think Pope Francis will be too different from the last several Roman Pontiffs. As bishop of Rome he will preach and teach, govern and sanctify.The Pope's un-programatic homily is in fact programatic if you can read the details. In some ways Francis's homily is an Aesopian creature.

First, style is substance. Second, the liturgical preaching thus far indicates a trajectory. Third, focus on the Pope's connection with people of belief and unbelief because this connection ought to be assessed for the facts and and not cliché. What the Pope said and what he's done matters. Who's present, and who's not. (And this data is not to be reduced to politics.) All this is to say that you can't miss "a trick" if you really want to know what and who Pope Francis is, and why he is doing what he's doing and with whom. 

We are living nothing different from what Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict did in their pontificates. Three things to pray for daily: conversion, vocation and mission.

A "news" man and priest whom I respect very much is the editor-in-chief for AsiaNews.it, Bernardo Cervellera. Tonight, his article, "Like Benedict, mission is Pope Francis's focus," captures what I am indicating and what I am urging you to attend.

Want to be informed about Christianity, and the global Church of Christ, read AsiaNews.it.
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19 March 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that "Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: "Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ's upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model" (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

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The Cardinal Dean prays,

Most Holy Father, may Christ, the Son of the living God, the shepherd and guard- ian of our souls, who built his Church upon rock, grant you the ring, the seal of Peter the Fisherman, who put his hope in him on the sea of Galilee, and to whom the Lord Jesus entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.

Today you succeed the Blessed Apostle Peter as the Bishop of this Church which presides over the unity of charity, as the Blessed Apostle Paul has taught. May the Spirit of charity, poured into our hearts, grant you the gentleness and strength to preserve, through your ministry, all those who believe in Christ in unity and fellowship.

Note on the ring

The ring was designed by the Italian sculptor Enrico Manfrini; he died in 2004. The ring belonged to Archbishop Pasquale Macchi (1923-2003), secretary of the Venerable Servant of God Pope Paul VI. Later in life Macchi was the Prelate of Loreto. It is reported that the use of three rings was a suggestion of Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies and Giovanni Cardinal Re, Prefect-emeritus of the Congregation of Bishops. The Pope chose this one.

Imposition of the Pallium

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The Senior Cardinal Deacon prays,

May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, bestow upon you the Pallium taken from the Tomb of the Apostle Peter.

The Good Shepherd charged Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep; today you succeed him as the Bishop of this Church to which he and the Apostle Paul were fathers in faith.

May the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, grant you his abundant gifts of wisdom and eloquence in the ministry of confirming your brethren in the unity of faith.

Let us pray.

O God, who do not disappoint those who call upon you with upright and devout hearts, hear the fervent prayer of your Church and pour forth your blessing upon your servant Francis, our Pope, to whom, through our humble service, you have granted primacy in the apostolic office. May he be strengthened by the gift of your Holy Spirit and worthily exercise his high ministry in accordance with the eminent charism he has received. Through Christ our Lord.

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The chair of the Bishop of Rome, Basilica Saint John Lateran, Rome.

In the first moments of his introduction to the world, Pope Francis has spoken of his ministry as the bishop of Rome, and his exercise of said ministry. Nine times, in fact. I think many were surprised at the theological precision that Pope Francis expressed so quickly. How is this possible? Because Francis is clearly Christocentric, and the Petrine ministry located in service of the other and at the foot of the Cross.

We ought to recall that ministries in the Church have gradually taken on new significance over time as the issues of teaching, preaching and sanctifying and governing (leading) surfaced and challenged the unity of the faithful. We know historically that by the third century the parameters of the bishop of Rome began to develop because of the work of Saints Peter and Paul, and because of the importance of the imperial city of Rome, and by the fourth century the influence of the Roman bishop was well-situated; and by the fifth century "canonical" letters, i.e., decrees, were sent to the world's bishops carrying with them certain authority. One can posit that from almost the beginning bishops from across the Christian world had appealed to the bishop of Rome for assistance in resolving with pastoral problems. 

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Pope Francis' coat of arms

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Pope Francis has decided to stick --more or less, with the heraldic art, that is, his coat of arms that he had when he was called to the Order of Bishop and then as a cardinal. The most identifiable change made is the replacing of the red cardinal's galero and tassels with the papal keys and miter that Pope Benedict XVI chose for his arms in 2005 when he accepted the pontifical dignity but gone is the pallium. The other change is turning the star representing Mary, the Mother of God and the flower of nard representing Saint Joseph, to gold as opposed to silver. Add to the artscape is the image most associated to the Society of Jesus with the IHS sunburst. The Holy Family, hence, is illustrated here.

The keys of Saint Peter refer to the gospel passage of Saint Matthew 16:16 where Jesus says to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom." The keys represent the pastoral authority of Jesus given to Peter and thus to Peter's successor to forgive sins, and lead us to salvation. The silver key concerns things of earth, and the gold key things of heaven joined together by the red cord symbolizing the common witness of the blood of the Savior shed for humanity. You may want to read the Catechism on the Petrine ministry at paragraphs 880-882, the whole section "I believe in the holy Catholic Church is worth" some study and prayer.

"By having mercy and making decisions" by following Christ
~the way Pope Francis intends to exercise the Petrine ministry he's been called to~

The Holy See's statement in Italian.

Smearing the Pope

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English: Monochrome version of the IHS emblem ...
The honeymoon was very short-lived: as tools of communication fling far and wide information and misinformation, social media gurus are now producing conflicting information about Pope Francis. But if you think I am talking exclusively of those who are Catholic haters think again; the Church has her detractors --enemies?-- and sadly from within. There are some insightful readers that help us to connect the dots of a new papacy. Father Raymond de Souza, John Allen and John Thavis comes to mind as credible.

I am not surprised that smear campaigns are spreading pretty fast with a click of the button, for example of topics being covered: Francis dealing with dictatorships; Francis and liturgical practice; Francis and the moral teachings of the Church; Francis, the poor and the papal ministry; Cardinals turning on Benedic; Francis and the Ignatian (and Jesuit charism); Francis and Communion and Liberation; Francis and Benedict.

Many have fallen in love with Pope Francis --at the moment he's the People's Pope. It won't be long before concerted ugliness is mainstream seeking to discredit, distract and divide, and lead away from the faith in Christ and the Church. Division has appeared and it's the work of the devil, not of the Holy Spirit. Don't believe me, just wait and see...

Stuff to read first...

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope" (WSJ, March 17, 2013) --a must-read, a good job done

John Allen, "Path to the papacy: 'Not him, not him, therefore him," (NCR, March 17, 2013) --lots of good details and analysis

Ross Douthat, "What the Church Needs Now," (NYT, March 15, 2013) --key points need heeding

To understand the problem of Ms Manson's thinking see article below, you need to read what Father John Zuhlsdorf writes, "Liberals will soon turn on Pope Francis" -(my thoughts later on what Manson wrote).

A sampling of the detractors:

  • Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, "Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War," (NCR, March 17, 2013) --gives very questionable analysis of the political and religious landscape but identifies Francis' "acceptability" within the Society of Jesus; recall that Father Reese was sacked by Pope Benedict
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Pope Francis in Motion

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This is THE funniest thing I've seen on Pope Francis and the cardinals thus far...Brandon Vogt's humor refreshes...in Pope Francis in Motion.

h/t to Father John

An English Translation of Cardinal Bergoglio's Lenten Letter 2013

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And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. (Joel 2:13)

Little by little we become accustomed to hearing and seeing, through the mass media, the dark chronicle of contemporary society, presented with an almost perverse elation, and also we become [desensitized] to touching it and feeling it all around us [even] in our own flesh. Drama plays out on the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our homes and -- why not? -- even in our own hearts. We live alongside a violence that kills, that destroys families, that enlivens wars and conflicts in so many countries of the world. We live with envy, hatred, slander, the mundane in our heart.

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At his first praying of the Angelus and address, the Holy Father told the crowd of 300K this experience.

The Pope "told a story, of an elderly widow he encountered during a Mass for the sick celebrated in connection with a visit of the image of Our Lady of Fatima. "I went to confession during the Mass," he said, "and near the end - I had to go to do confirmations afterward, and an elderly lady approached me - humble [she was] so very humble, more than eighty years old. I looked at her, and said, 'Grandmother,' - where I come from, we call elderly people grandmother and grandfather - 'would you like to make your confession?' 'Yes,' she said - and I said, 'but, if you have not sinned...' and she said, 'we all have sinned.' [I replied], 'if perhaps He should not forgive [you]?' and, sure, she replied, 'The Lord forgives everything.' I asked, 'How do you know this for sure, madam?' and she replied, 'If the Lord hadn't forgiven all, then the world wouldn't [still] be here.' And, I wanted to ask her, 'Madam, did you study at the Gregorian (the Pontifical Gregorian University, founded in 1551 by St Ignatius Loyola, the oldest Jesuit university in the world)?' - because that is wisdom, which the Holy Spirit gives - interior wisdom regarding the mercy of God. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us," he repeated, "but we sometimes tire of asking Him to forgive us." Pope Francis went on to say, "Let us never tire of asking God's forgiveness."

Source: Vatican Radio

The Pope offered Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Lent today in the parish church of the Vatican, Saint Anne's. In the picture Francis is seen with Pietro Orlandi, the brother of Emanuela who disappeared in 1983; the Orlandi family were parishioners of Saint Anne's and she sang in the choir, the father was an employee of the Vatican bank. Emanuela is presumed dead. The homily was unscripted but Vatican Radio offered this summary.

Francis with the brother of  Emanuela Orlandi, Pietro.jpg

Pope Francis said, "If we are like the Pharisee before the altar, [who said], 'Thank you, Lord, for not making me like all the other men, and especially not like that fellow at the door, like that publican...,' well, then we do not know the heart of the Lord, and we shall not ever have the joy of feeling this mercy." Pope Francis went on to say, "It is not easy trust oneself to the mercy of God, because [His mercy] is an unfathomable abyss - but we must do it!" Pope Francis continued, "He has the ability to forget, [which is] special: He forgets [our sins], He kisses you, He embraces you, and He says to you, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now, on, sin no more.' Only that counsel does He give you." Pope Francis concluded, saying, "We ask for the grace of never tiring of asking pardon, for He never tires of pardoning."

Pope Francis commenting on Monsignor Giussani: 

"When people say to Fr. Giussani, "How brave one has to be to say 'Yes' to Christ!" or, "This objection comes to my mind: it is evident that Fr. Giussani loves Jesus and I don't love Him in the same way," Giussani answers, "Why do you oppose what you think you don't have to what you think I have? I have this yes, only this, and it would not cost you one iota more than it costs me.... Say "Yes" to Jesus. If I foresaw that tomorrow I would offend Him a thousand times, I would still say it." Thérèse of Lisieux says almost exactly the same thing: "I say it, because if I did not say 'Yes' to Jesus I could not say 'Yes' to the stars in the sky or to your hair, the hairs on your head..." Nothing could be simpler: "I don't know how it is, I don't know how it might be: I know that I have to say 'Yes.' I can't not say it," and reasonably; that is to say, at every moment in his reflections in this book, Giussani has recourse to the reasonableness of experience."

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Available for pre-order:
Francis: Pope of a New World by Andrea Tornielli

"Francis, rebuild my Church!" That is how St. Francis of Assisi heard the call of Christ. It is also how Jorge Mario Bergoglio, at the age of 76, and a Jesuit, seems to have accepted his election to the papacy with the choice of a name that no other pope has ever chosen.

Who is Pope Francis, elected in one of the shortest conclaves in history? Who is the man chosen to be the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope?
Bergoglio with Don Giacomo Tantardini in a photo from 2009 [© Paolo Galosi].jpg
30 Days magazine had a few articles about or written by Pope Francis extracted and put them into one document so it would easier to read them.  I am sharing the document with you in case you want to read the articles.

Surveying what the ecumenical crowd has to say about this papal election is mixed at best. Time will tell about our interfaith friends, namely the Jewish and Muslim communities. It is said that Pope Francis has had very strong friendships with the Jewish community of Argentina.

On Wednesday night when Pope Francis was introduced to the world on the loggia he said, "And now let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood."

Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (of Constantinople) will attend the enthronement of the newly-elected Pope of Rome on March 19. This is the first time since 1054 that Orthodox bishops will be in attendance. Bartholomew will be accompanied by the Metropolitan of Pergamum, John (Zizoulas), the Metropolitan of Buenos Aires, Tarasios (a native of San Antonio, Texas) and the Metropolitan of Italy, Gennadios.

The Russian Orthodox Church's Department for External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, spoke on Thursday that he thought a meeting between the Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow was "possible but the place and timing will depend on how quickly we will overcome the consequences of the conflicts from the turn of 1980s and 1990s." Hilarion notes, "on several occasions, Pope Francis has shown spiritual sympathy towards the Orthodox Church and a desire for closer contacts." The Orthodox still refuse to accept the fact that some Christians in the Byzantine East want, in their own freedom, be in communion with the bishop of Rome. Tensions run high when it comes to thinking about the Ukrainian Byzantine Church using the title of Patriarch for their head and the existence of Latin Catholic dioceses in Russia.

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The Church needs reform, as always, a personal conversion. Turning to Jesus Christ is an act of freedom. What baggage do we have that would prevent change, or hinder me from confessing and living differently as a Christian? Reform starts not with institutional works, but with oneself. Governance is not the only issue that we have to be vigilant of with this new papacy; conversion of life starts locally and spreads. As Francis said yesterday in his first Mass as the Bishop of Rome, we need to walk, to build, to confess with, for and by each and every person so that we see the glory of God. We need to untie the knots that were spoken of by Saint Ireneaus. All this talk of reform includes the Curia, it is not business as usual. The Pope will remind us and lead us by his own life. He now holds office as the Vicar of Christ. He has suffered much close to  To that end, today Pope Francis spoke to the gathered cardinals in the Sala Clementina. His address follows.

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This period of the Conclave has been filled with meaning not just for the College of Cardinals but also for all the faithful. During these days we have felt almost palpably the affection and solidarity of the universal Church, as well as the attention of many people who, even if not sharing our faith, look upon the Church and the Holy See with respect and admiration.

From every corner of the earth a heart-felt chorus of prayer was raised by Christian peoples for the new Pope, and my first encounter with the crowds filling St. Peter's Square was an emotional one. With that eloquent image of a praying and joyful populace still fixed in my mind, I would like to manifest my sincere gratitude to the Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, young people, families, and to the aged for their spiritual closeness which is so touching and sincere.

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In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.

Walking: the House of Jacob. "O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord." This is the first thing God said to Abraham: "Walk in my presence and be blameless." Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

JM Bergoglio.jpgResearch is running on steroids in the hours since Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to be our new Roman Pontiff, Francis. This is especially true with members of Communion and Liberation who are eager to see what connection they can make with the new Pope. Who could blame us?

In the first paragraph Bergoglio writes about a lecture he gave on the Religious Sense where he says, "...I was not simply performing  a formal act of protocol ... I was expressing the gratitude that is due to Msgr Giussani. For many years now, his writings have inspired me to reflect and have helped me to pray. They have taught me to be a better Christian, and I spoke at the presentation to bear witness to this."

Pope Francis on the Religious Sense.pdf

(From, Eliza Buzzi, A Generative Thought: An Introduction to the Works Luigi Giussani, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003).

Yesterday afternoon I posted here on Communio a Traces article, "The Attraction of the Cardinal."

Francis & Giovanni Re.jpgNational Review Online published today George Weigel's "The First American Pope: Catholicism's turn into an evangelical future."

Weigel calls His Holiness, Pope Francis a "True Man of God," "A Pope for the New Evangelization," "A pope in defense of human rights and democracy," "The 2005 runner-up takes the checkered flag in 2013?" and "The first Jesuit pope?"

Father Julián Carrón wrote to members of CL on the election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome.


Within the irrepressible joy of having a new guide for our community of believers, I am struck by how he managed to communicate to us, from his very first movements, with simple gestures comprehensible to everyone, where his gaze is fixed. With his choice of name, Francis, he shows us that he has no other wealth but Christ. He trusts no modality of communicating this if not plain and simple witness to Christ.

Pope Francis's disarming request expressed the awareness that this witness is pure grace and that we must beg for it: "I ask you to pray to the Lord that He will bless me." In the Pope's prayer, together with the crowd in St. Peter's Square, the miracle of the life that is the Church--whose heart is Christ Himself--took shape before the eyes of the world.

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In the name of the Society of Jesus, I give thanks to God for the election of our new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., which opens for the Church a path full of hope.


All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time. The name of "Francis" by which we shall now know him evokes for us the Holy Father's evangelical spirit of closeness to the poor, his identification with simple people, and his commitment to the renewal of the Church. From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth.


"The distinguishing mark of our Society is that it is . . . a companionship . . . bound to the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service." (Complementary Norms, No. 2, § 2) Thus, we share the joy of the whole Church, and at the same time, wish to express our renewed availability to be sent into the vineyard of the Lord, according to the spirit of our special vow of obedience, that so distinctively unites us with the Holy Father (General Congregation 35, Decree 1, No. 17).


P. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.

Superior General

Rome, 14 March 2013

Pope Francis at Santa Maria Maggiore.jpgThe most significant Marian Shrine in Rome, and one of the central ones in Christian the world, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, had a visit by Pope Francis today for a half-hour of prayer before the Blessed Mother. He wanted to "go pray to the Madonna so that she may protect Rome." 

A great beginning showing us that the Christian way is merciful and joyful in honoring the model of mercy and joy, the Mother of the Church, Mary, the Mother of God.

Vatican Radio's report by Veronica Scarisbrick.
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There are several "firsts" already identified with Pope Francis' election as the Supreme Pontiff on 13 March. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first pope formed as a member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

But Pope Francis is not the first non-European pope. The last pope not born in Europe was the Syrian Saint Gregory III. He was the 90th bishop of Rome who reigned 18 March 731 - 28 November 741. Gregory was elected without having been a bishop first. By acclamation the educated Syrian priest was elected the pope.

Among many things he had deal with was the iconoclast controversy.

Saint Gregory's feast is observed by some 28 November and by others on 10 December.

Bergoglio washing feet.jpg"Before being someone with a job to do, [the pope] 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" Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete giving the best description of what it means to be the Vicar of Christ I have ever read.

I am grateful to Deacon Scott Dodge for posting this description. Deacon Dodge is ordained for service in the Diocese of Salt Lake City and follows Communion and Liberation, too.

The Bergoglio Family

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"Habemus Papam" - Cardinal Jorge Mar...

Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the Mass for the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry will be held March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, at 9:30 Rome time. 

He also confirmed that the Mass for the closure of Conclave will be at 17:00 (5:00pm) Thursday in the Sistine Chapel. On Friday, at 11 a.m., there will be an audience with the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall. That on Saturday 11 a.m. Pope Francis I will have audience with all journalists and media covering conclave- an announcement greeted with a round of applause in the briefing hall. And finally on Sunday Pope Francis will recite Angelus at noon.

Thursday, Pope Francis will make a private visit to a sanctuary of Our Lady on Thursday March 14th, but details will be released only when this visit is over.

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Brothers and sisters, good evening!

You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop.  It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one... but here we are... I thank you for your welcome.  The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop.  Thank you!  And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI.  Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him. 

Our Father...

Hail Mary...

Glory Be...

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The episcopal motto of the new Pope's coat of arms, Miserando atque Eligendo ("By having mercy and by making decisions [in following Christ]"; it could also read, "by showing compassion [the Lord called] and by choosing [to follow Him]). The motto is extracted from a homily of Saint Bede the Venerable (Homily 21) on a passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew read in the breviary on the saint's feast on 25 May: "Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, Sequere me." (Jesus looked at the publican, and because he looked with mercy and choosing, said to him, 'Follow me.') Bergoglio knew who gazed on him and decided to follow.


The following article on Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, today elected Pope Francis, is taken from Traces, (June 2001) the monthly magazine of Communion and Liberation.

At the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, the largest in South America, the Argentinian Primate presented the Spanish edition of L'attrattiva Gesù [The Attraction that is Jesus]. "The locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin"

By Silvina Premat

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, recently named Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, presented El atractivo de Jesucristo, published by Encuentro, at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires which was entitled, "The Book, from the Author to the Reader." The book exhibition is the largest in Latin America. For twenty days, a million people visit the 25,000 square meters of stands set up by more than 1,300 exhibitors (publishing houses, bookstores, foundations, embassies, and regions). They seek to know an internationally famous writer, hear a lecture on a topical theme, or find an interesting offer.

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America Magazine wrote on 18 April 2005,

English: Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archb...

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a 68-year-old Jesuit who has a growing reputation as a very spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership. An author of books on spirituality and meditation, since 1998 he has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people. He rides the bus, visits the poor and a few years ago made a point of washing the feet of 12 AIDS sufferers on Holy Thursday. He also has created 17 new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives and started new pastoral programs, such as a commission for divorced people. He co-presided over the 2001 Synod of Bishops and was elected to the synod council, so he is well known to the world's bishops.

John Thavis' piece, "First Thoughts about Pope Francis."

Plus, John Allen has a profile of Pope Francis written for the NCR.

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Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Habemus Papam!
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Jorge Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Bergoglio,
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.

In English

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord Jorge Mario Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio,
Who takes for himself the name of Francis.

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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