Posted: March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s not just the name, but a cluster of things. Of course, taking a papal name from St. Francis of Assisi can mean plenty, symbolically speaking. Basing your spiritual leadership on the humble friar who embraced poverty and harmony with all creation is a great start. But add to that the fact that this new pope is from Argentina and a Jesuit to boot and you’ve got something. Here is one who assumed a simplicity and pastoral role with the people, especially those on the lower tier of the social ladder. I like that fact that the chair of St. Peter will be occupied by one who rides the bus and knows less of the curia than political insiders might like.

What this may reflect is a whole new visage of spiritual leadership. It won’t be that easy, of course, what with scandals to the left and right and the difficulty of leading a giant and tradition-bound institution. Nevertheless, I am glad.

Don’t go expecting some new progressive theology flowing out of the Vatican because I don’t believe we will see that. Women will not be ordained as priests and doctrines will be reinforced rather than loosened. In the same way that John Paul II was very conservative and very pastoral I imagine we will encounter Francis as more of a people’s pope. And that will be embraced joyfully. It could spell another ecumenical moment for the universal church.

So let us pray for our brother Francis. Let him aspire to his name. And we with him.

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