Pope Francis Knows What Must Be Done

Pope Francis

 Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.

The stunned silence in the second or two after the announcement from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica spoke volumes. No one was expecting the cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to be named the immediate successor of Pope Benedict XVI and the 265th successor of Saint Peter. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, the first Jesuit to be elected pope and the first pope from the Americas, had been mentioned on various lists of papabile but universally dismissed as too old. Never mind that he is two years younger than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was in 2005, and, by all accounts, in better health than Ratzinger was in then (let alone than Benedict is in now). The conventional wisdom was that the Catholic Church “needed” a younger, stronger, more vibrant pope—which, in the minds of secular journalists and pundits, meant a pope who would change with the times.

Indeed, a New York Times/CBS News poll, released on March 6, “push-polled” American Catholics: “Which comes closer to what you’re looking for in the next Pope? 1. Someone younger with new ideas OR 2. Someone older with more experience.” (It does not seem to have occurred to the pollsters that those cardinals most likely to endorse what the Times considers “new ideas” are, in fact, among the oldest.) And in the wake of Cardinal Bergoglio’s election, the Gray Lady’s headline editors could not hide their disappointment: “Argentine Pope Will Make History, but Backs Vatican Line.” Who would have guessed that the new pope would be a Catholic?

Flag_of_Vatican_CityThe answer would be anyone who understands the Catholic Church (which, sadly, includes a decreasing number of Catholics). The election of this particular man took me by surprise (I had given Angelo Cardinal Scola, the archbishop of Milan, better than even odds), but the election of this kind of man did not.

The media had a narrative prepared: Here are all the ways in which the new pope is different from Pope Benedict XVI. But the announcement of Cardinal Bergoglio’s election left them twisting in the wind. He’s old; he’s morally and doctrinally conservative; he’s not going to remake the Catholic Church in the image of Barack Obama.

And that’s precisely the point. Despite the claims of both ultratraditionalists and doctrinal and moral libertines, the Church today, in her core, is what she has always been and always will be. Since John XXIII threw the windows open, the Church’s curtains may have been torn by the wind and faded by the sun, but Christ’s promise to the first pope has protected His Church from the kind of harm that the modern world would so desperately love to inflict on her.

The fact that Pope Francis is, in a word, Catholic does not, however, guarantee that he will be effective in either governance or evangelization. There are, I think, signs that he knows what needs to be done. Every cardinal-elector who entered the conclave understands why Pope Benedict thought that a man with more strength was needed in the office. And while Pope Francis’s first words to the world were brief and spoken softly in impeccable Italian, they carried within them a note of foreshadowing: “My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today … may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.”

The evangelization of Rome—or of Vatican City itself? The words may have been deliberately ambiguous, as was Cardinal Bergoglio’s choice of Francis as his papal name. The media, both Catholic and secular, assumed, because of his well-known concern for the poor, that he was hearkening back to Saint Francis of Assisi. And perhaps he was; Timothy Cardinal Dolan claims that Cardinal Bergoglio explicitly stated so after his election. But Saint Francis was hardly the Dr. Dolittle of the popular imagination. Christ Himself told him to “Go and rebuild my Church, which you can see has fallen into ruin,” and the Franciscan order remains a strong force in the Holy Land today because of Francis’s own attempt, in 1219, to convert the sultan of Egypt or win the crown of martyrdom in the process.

It is likely, however, that Cardinal Bergoglio was also invoking the memory of St. Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order, whose legacy of evangelization is reflected in Pope Francis’s brief words on the balcony of Saint Peter’s. (Francis Xavier, perhaps coincidentally, also hoped to convert the Muslims.)

And yet invoking Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier and possibly hinting at the cleanup of the Augean stables of the Roman Curia will all mean nothing if Pope Francis cannot govern more effectively than Pope Benedict did. On that question, the verdict is out. As Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in the mid-1970’s, Bergoglio lost the support of the fellow members of his order as they moved to the left, and he was essentially marginalized by being named rector of the Society’s seminary in San Miguel. His ecclesiastical career might well have gone no further had it not been for the intervention of Pope John Paul II, who elevated him to bishop and later to cardinal.

As the archbishop of Buenos Aires and the president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Bergoglio has not shied away from confrontations with the left-wing Argentinean government over moral issues, while at the same time presenting the Church’s social teaching as an alternative both to the depredations of capitalism and the materialism of liberation theology. On abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and contraception, Bergoglio has been a tireless advocate of the Church’s moral teaching, though he has lost many political battles, most famously in his opposition to homosexual adoption, which he declared “a form of discrimination against children.” While Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner denounced his words as flowing from “medieval times and the Inquisition,” his strong stand increased his support among his fellow Argentinean bishops and the faithful of his country.

And that moral courage led to an important stamp of approval that may well have affected the outcome of the conclave. On February 23, 2013, in one of his final acts as pope, Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Bergoglio to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. It’s a sign of the respect that Benedict holds for his successor and an indication that the two may well be closer than the stories of their rival candidacies in the 2005 conclave would suggest. For Americans who are used to holding their noses and voting every four years for the lesser of two evils, it may be hard to imagine, but it is entirely possible that, in the 2005 conclave, the cardinal-electors were faced with the choice of the greater of two goods. (Indeed, in one version of events, Cardinal Bergoglio supported the candidacy of Cardinal Ratzinger, and begged those supporting him to stop doing so, thus paving the way for Benedict’s election.)

In the end, the significance of Francis’s papacy may depend very little on what he accomplishes, or fails to accomplish. Benedict did not succeed in cleaning the Augean stables, yet it is already clear to everyone but the New York Times that history will regard him as one of the Church’s better popes. Francis’s election signals a new era in the Church—though not, as some had hoped, an era of the Americas, and in particular of the United States. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, an Argentine who is nonetheless a full-blooded Italian, is as close to the perfect bridge between the rapidly fading European era of the Church and the rising era of the global south as the cardinal-electors were likely to find. The plurality of the world’s Catholics today reside in Latin America, and the simple fact of Francis’s papacy will give the Church in Latin America the kind of shot in the arm that John Paul II’s papacy gave to the Church in Poland.

And that, in the end, can only be good for all of Christendom, including the Europe of which Rome remains the symbolic heart, and the Rome which itself clearly lies close to the heart of Pope Francis:

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him … but here we are.

Scott P. Richert

By

Scott P. Richert is the executive editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and writes the Guide to Catholicism for About.com.

  • lifeknight

    Nice, upbeat article. Is there any credible evidence that our new pope will be as positive toward the Traditional Latin Mass as Pope Benedict?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jambe-dArgent/100003865893919 Jambe d’Argent

      Dr. Robert Moynihan says that the new pope is “hostile to the traditional liturgy” (see his letter # 46 “Pope Francis”). If true, this is a dark spot on this otherwise very promising pontiff.

      • J.E. Rendini

        Some are less than happy with the elevation of Cardinal Bergoglio. See http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-horror-buenos-aires-journalist.html
        If anyone has an informed criticism of the linked article, please post it. On the other hand, his short address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square was meticulously correct and certainly his evident devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an encouraging, hopeful sign. Then, there’s always the Holy Spirit …

      • http://www.facebook.com/scott.p.richert Scott P. Richert

        Bob Moynihan offers no evidence, and the claims of some of my fellow traditionalists (that Cardinal Bergoglio has blocked the implementation of Summorum Pontificum in his archdiocese) are flatly untrue:

        http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2013/03/old-rite-mass-in-argentina.html

        • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.joe.731 Mikey Joe

          The hermeneutic of continuity blog has posted the following: “An apology to Rorate Caeli and a correction on TLM provision in Buenos Aires”

          http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com.br/2013/03/an-apology-to-rorate-caeli-and.html

          There seems to be a good amount of misunderstanding, misinformation, or simply concern…

          • Scott Richert

            Yes. On further examination, the situation is much more murky. But I do not think it justifies Moynihan’s claim that Bergoglio was “hostile to the traditional liturgy,” and interestingly, as of yesterday, neither does Moynihan (see his letter #47, “To Mary”).

            • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.joe.731 Mikey Joe

              Thanks, Scott … I do enjoy reading your work as it is always insightful, clear, concise, and deliberative.

              Your faith and understanding represent a model for those who may be looking for guidance.

              • http://www.facebook.com/scott.p.richert Scott P. Richert

                Thank you for those very kind words, Mikey Joe.

      • JonahJ

        In 2007, Cardinal Bergoglio was one of the first bishops in the world to respond to Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum by instituting a regular Tridentine massin Buenos Aires within just two days of the Papal motu proprio.

  • J Kinsella

    An insightful article, refreshingly more nuanced than New York Times or Fox News. Thank You. It explains how to be truly Catholic today is also to be counter culture. May God bless Pope Francis and give him the strength to build up the Church again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/briana.grzybowski.3 Briana Grzybowski

    Of course the media outlets will always be surprised that the Pope is Catholic. And once they all have their 2000th birthdays, then maybe, just MAYBE, the Vatican will consider sharing with them the authority to pontificate on matters of morality, human nature, and Church teaching. But not until then. They gotta wait their turn first. :p

    • Ford Oxaal

      Those media whippersnappers! It takes a lot of hubris to waltz into the Vatican chanting the ultimate unhinged mantra “change”, or “modernize”. Kind of like a drunk stumbling into a formal party and wetting his pants. But all in all, I think NBC did a surprisingly good job on coverage given their spiritual ignorance — they lined up Cardinals Egan and Dolan, Fr. Barron, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/briana.grzybowski.3 Briana Grzybowski

        I watched the NBC coverage muted because I was in a public place with no headphones, so I can’t say anything about that. But, for crying out loud, the Church’s job is to give us something otherworldly that breaks us out of our “modern” workaday existence! And if that means we have to defy the God-forsaken media people to do that job, then so be it! Can I get a witness?!

        • Ford Oxaal

          Absolutely. We simply use the media more than the media uses us — that means **leaving it off**. We only turn it on for big events like this. When we do turn on the network news, we do so with a hermeneutic of suspicion and jaundice-eyed scrutiny :) There is no natural reason the media has to be antagonistic to the Catholic Church, and so, as Fr. Jorge says, we must pray fervently for the necessary graces. What if we woke up one morning, and the media had resigned its position as the mouthpiece of Satan, and came over to the side of good.

        • James Stagg

          We were transfixed by the FOX coverage……visual and spoken.

  • Alecto

    Disclaimer: I am highly biased against Jesuits; I do not trust them at all. When I heard a Jesuit pope had been selected, I thought, “There goes the religion!” I hope this man isn’t like the Jesuits I see…vain, arrogant, intelligent but lacking in any wisdom or prudence with zero piety or obedience. I hope he is the thoughtful, learned, modest and pious man we are told he is. I hope the Holy Spirit guides him throughout his papacy.

    I am also disappointed in this fixation with the “poor”. It’s not that I object to assisting them. However, if those are the only people to whom this church reaches out, it has lost an opportunity to reach out to the affluent who live in moral and spiritual poverty as well. After all, what is poverty but a lack of something? There can be a lack of intangibles in our lives as well as material goods. Often “Catholics” exploit the poor to aggregate power to themselves and to impose socialism on the rest of us. I have come to understand that “poor” is code in Catholic-speak for socialist programming. I ain’t having any of that, pope or not.

    • Ford Oxaal

      There are still some good Jesuits lurking about :). The bad ones get all the media attention.

    • Wilson

      I agree with you about the Jesuits. Warning sign number one. For me number two is that he is from “Latin” America — a region of carrion “Catholicism” devastated by the extremists of the Second Vatican Council, who lay down, feet up, for the CIA-produced invasion of rabid “evangelical” protestant shouters and jumpers. I watched it, not read about it. This man will be a disaster for traditional Catholicism. His record speaks for itself.

      • Tony

        Let’s recall, though, that the faithful Jesuits have suffered a great deal, all this time; sent to Siberia, silenced, passed over, and so on. Francis endured that, just as a couple of Jesuits I know endured it. We need a rejuvenated Jesuit order. And it will be good fun to watch the media mundi scratching its collective head, confronting the fact that the Church’s teaching on sex and the Church’s teaching on society are the same teaching.
        Another cause for happiness: Francis is very close to the vibrant, youthful, and quite orthodox social-educational movement, Communion and Liberation. He was close to Msgr. Giussani, and has spoken a couple of times to the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who convene at Rimini for CL’s conference every summer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/scott.p.richert Scott P. Richert

        And which record is that? Because I’m still working my way through it, but I’ve found nothing to indicate that Pope Francis will be “a disaster for traditional Catholicism.”

        And before you jump to conclusions, my wife, eight children, and I are members of Saint Mary Oratory in Rockford, Illinois, run by the Institute of Christ the King and the first approved Latin Mass parish in the United States post-Novus Ordo to offer all of the sacraments in the traditional rite and two Masses per day. (Others, of course, are doing so now.)

        • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.joe.731 Mikey Joe

          Scott- I sure hope that your assessment is accurate. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger note: “….the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing
          today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” I just hope Pope Francis shares that perspective…

          • Scott Richert

            I think Benedict felt that he could resign at this time because he has set the Church on the road to liturgical renewal. Do I think that Pope Francis will share his liturgical sense? No. Do I think that he will attempt to undo what Benedict has done regarding the Traditional Latin Mass? No.

      • http://www.facebook.com/escobedogn Gonzalo Escobedo

        What an ignorant and condescending statement!
        Do you mean that we live in the land of orthodoxy?
        Do you know how many canonized saints were born in what you call a region of carrion “Catholicism”? Can you judge every single soul who live there?
        Do you know about the persecution that the faithful has endured in those lands, many times instigated by the US? if we had to go through a trial like that, would you be able to give your life, like those who you now seem to despise did?

        Your statement reminds me Luke 18 , 11.

        • Wilson

          Condescending, yes; “ignorant”,no, Sonny. For over forty years I lived and worked in, and married into a part of that region, and wrote books in Spanish about a part of that region. It would take more than you to call me “ignorant”. Bye.

          • http://www.facebook.com/escobedogn Gonzalo Escobedo

            Just because you write books does not mean you are not ignorant. You merely wrote about your ignorance. I was born and raised in that part of the world, and I see that in over forty years you did not manage to grasp anything about it, perhaps due to your arrogance and condesencion. So yes, sir I stand by my words. I also see that you did not address any of my comments.
            Again, it would serve you well to meditate on Luke 18 , 9
            May you find the peace that you evidently lack…

            • Wilson

              I saw what I saw; you saw what you saw. You consider me “ignorant”; I consider you an ignoramus; so we are even. I will not be baited into wasting my time to condescend to bother with your insults and “comments”. Find someone else to play with. Perhaps I will read the passage from the Gospel of SAINT Luke to which you refer, assuming that your “Luke” is he. May you find the peace that you also evidently lack.

              • pbecke

                No. The four Evangelist who wrote the Gospels are simply referred to by their first names.On the other hand, In the Epistle reading, before the Gospel during the Mass, the author’s first name is always prefaced by the title, ‘Saint’.

                The higher the rank, the more humble. It was probably initiated during the time when the Gospels were written. But we seem to have ‘moved on’ a little, since those days…., as politicians would say.

        • pbecke

          So much about Communism from US Catholics, so little about the more depraved and vicious neo-liberal capitalism, also utterly deplored by both JPII and Solzhenizin, incidentally – not to speak of Benedict and now, Francis.

          ‘Grace builds upon nature’, yes. But to possess a natural life, one must survive. So, in that sense, however, self-seeking the motives of the Communist leaders in China, having fed, clothed and housed what amounted to almost a third of the world’s population, it strikes me that God will have viewed them as the son in the parable, who said he wouldn’t do his father’s bidding, but actually did so; unlike our leaders of the UK and US, who have been doing and are continuing to do, the opposite.

          If the world economy goes down the tubes, it won’t be a result of old, ‘rust-bucket’ Communism, but, instead, of the insensate greed of the West’s oligarchy of one percenters.

    • Barbaracvm

      Some of what you said is true.

      In the northwest of the US the various Indian tribes specifically asked for the ‘Black Robes’ to come and teach them. The Black Robes of the Jesuits and not the other orders were accepted.

      The Jesuits are the intellects of the church. They have talent to rise to the highest of heights or fall to lowest depths.

    • Patrick Kasarski

      The Holy Father was actually exiled to the countryside to teach high school by more “liberation theology” type of Jesuits, before being rescued by JPII and made archbishop. So he seems to be an “old school” Jesuit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.joe.731 Mikey Joe

      Spot on!

    • Joe DeCarlo

      You can’t lump all Jesuits into one basket. I do agree with about the Jesuits. They have been rebels since their founding. Isn’t Father Reese a Jesuit?

      • Grey Bear

        Basically he’s a HERETIC !

  • TMJC

    “Who would have guessed that the new pope would be a Catholic?” This was a great line, and the sentiment I kept muttering as I tried to find news coverage that did not make me want to throw something at the screen.
    Erin Burnett from CNN, who was providing live coverage from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, announced to the viewing audience that she was raised Catholic. She showed her First Communion picture, which she still keeps on her dresser. She told us that she had been Confirmed. She even confided that she still had her “CC textbooks”. She then went on to say that she no longer practices. She is ecumenical “…as so many others around the world are.” People “…who would return to the Church if it altered its stance on so many issues.” And when she kept asking people if Pope Francis was going to be the Pope to “change things” (read: embrace abortion, contraception, female ordination, and recognizing marriage between homosexual people) THAT is when I TRULY TRULY realized that so many people, especially Catholics – never mind the secular media, have ABSOLUTELY NO earthly idea what Catholicism is. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen really called it!
    I am very happy and very excited to have Pope Francis as head of our Church on Earth. Thank you for a positive and informative article.

    • Barbaracvm

      One of the major reasons the young people are leaving the church is because they are not taught what is “Catholic”. Whether they go to Catholic schools or attend the weekly religion classes they do not learn the Catholic religion. I have one daughter 12 years of Catholic school now fallen away. The other daughter attended weekly religion classes and is still in the church.
      Neither one learned much of anything. What they learned I taught them. When they asked questions they were ignored. This tells me they religious instructors did not know anything about the faith.

      I have mentioned this at different times to various priests and nothing has changed.
      Until the children are taught the Catholic religion they will continue to leave the church.

      • Patrick Kasarski

        Very good point. I am recently married and have started to look at some of the schools in the area. The public schools, except in some very wealthy districts, are useless, and the parochial schools generally aren’t much better in terms of actually instructing students (I’m talking basic “reading, writing, and arithmetic” here, much less the Catholic Faith) as opposed to mushy multiculturalism. I don’t really like the idea of homeschooling since I think children need to learn how to interact in the world without their parents around. There are, fortunately, a pair of schools run by Opus Dei, one for boys and one for girls, which seem to have some sense to them.

        • Natalie

          As a homeschooling Mom of 9 kids (# 10 due in 6 weeks) I have to tell you that your image of homeschooling is the opposite of what is true. In school children get used to the idea that one should only associate with and conform to the peer group. The homeschoolers are the ones who are able to carry on a normal conversation with people of different ages and backgrounds. As for religious instruction, absolutely I want to be the one who instructs. It isn’t just textbook and worksheet lessons they receive, but one on one conversation dealing with the issues of the day. Trust me, EVERY issue of the day is known and talked about, with articles, church teachings and often real-life consequences to witness from life around us. One would have to live in a cave to avoid seeing the sadness and destruction in the world. As a homeschooler, one has the advantage of being to one from whom your child learns these important lessons….not the other 14 year olds in the class who snicker when they leave the room. I was a teenager who went to school and I remember how seriously I took things when surrounded by my friends….

          • Tony

            Patrick — I am around hundreds of young people constantly, and have been for more than 25 years. The homeschoolers stand out as being most comfortable in their own skin, and by far the more likely to talk to all kinds of people, including adults who are not their parents. That’s because they have spent their whole lives around all kinds of people, and not segregated by age. They have also spent their lives around people who love them (which is natural for the human race), and it shows.

          • James

            I’m currently in my senior year of highschool. I’ve been homeschooled my entire life, along with my 8 siblings (third oldest). I would absolutely never, for any reason give up my upbringing being homeschooled, and I know none of my siblings or my parents would either. It’s the best, as long as social opportunities are provided. My parents love to get us out there – but only when they’re sure the morals and values they’ve taught us have set in. That’s pretty quick, since we don’t have to deal with peer pressure and all that. Every homeschooled kid I met is certain in what he believed, and is extremely polite and well-mannered. Something you find rarely in public schools. Not only is it good for them, it’s good for anyone they interact with. They can confidently introduce to other teens a set of morals they rarely see, you know? But yeah, most of us get plenty of social interaction. I’m in 3 plays/musicals right now, one at my local highschool, and believe me, setting an example makes a difference.

      • Susan

        To Barbaracvm: And even when Catholicism is taught in such a way that people fully and clearly understand the teaching, they don’t always accept it. In the old days, perhaps young people were more inclined to accept what they were taught and were exposed to fewer alternative viewpoints. I respect freedom of conscience and understand that we can’t mandate that others will hold certain beliefs. Even the most brilliant and rigorously trained of Catholic theologians will disagree on aspects of Church teaching. The Jesuit system of “probabilism” teaches that, in matters of doubt, people may follow the probable opinion of a competent minority of theologians as opposed to the traditional teaching. I don’t know where Francis, as a Jesuit, stands on this issue, but I am hopeful that he will be able to articulate his own positions while respecting the right of others within the Church to disagree. If he can pull that off, perhaps we can bypass the ridiculous “culture wars” with their flamboyant, bombastic, and petty lines in the sand and move on toward a truly universal church.

        • Joe DeCarlo

          If you disagree with the Catholic teachings, which are really the teachings of the bible, then look for another Christian denomination with which you believe. If you disagree with one teaching of the church you are a heretic. The church has to get back to where it was before the disastrous Vatican II. We had full churches, seminaries, convents, schools and long lines at confession. Please tell me what good Vatican II did for the church.

          • Keith

            Joe DeCarlo, if you disagree with the teachings of Vatican II, does not that make you — by your own definition — a heretic? If you apply your own advice to yourself (and I hope you don’t) should not you be the one looking for another denomination? I doubt any truly well read, well educated, and, yes, well catechized Catholic would be unable to find a teaching or two to disagree with (global warming, environmental stewardship, social justice, the death penalty, freedom of conscience, contraception, probabilism, even papal infallibility???). Popes have disagreed with previous popes. Please don’t try to play God and decide who does or does not belong in the Catholic Church. That would be idolatrous. I doubt Pope Francis would approve. Remember that he referred to those who would “separate the people of God from salvation” as “today’s hypocrites”?

          • Pal

            You also had ongoing abuse issues, of which only a small percentage (and I mean very small), have come to light. What we really need is a radical overhaul of the church (female priests, married priests etc.). Hey, I have an idea. Let’s propose a Vaticn III and put an end to the problems facing this church and archaic thinkers such as yourself.

            • Rickie

              @Pal – Psychologists have agreed that there are no direct correlation between celibacy and paedophilia. Although, with homosexuality, there is. The problem is not celibacy but rather homosexuality. Also, if you count, the number of cases is much numerous in those married clergy in other denominations in case of percentage. In all organizations around the world, only the Catholic Church has done something to solve the problem. Note: most of the cases are not really paedophilia but rather ephebophilia.

              For more on this, read “With the Pope against the Homoheresy” by Fr. Dariusz Oko, Ph.D.

            • http://www.facebook.com/scott.p.richert Scott P. Richert

              Those who claim that only a “small percentage” of abuse cases “have come to light” have no way of proving that claim. It’s based entirely on claims that abuse cases in general are underreported, which of course is true: After all, all crime is underreported. But those claims, correct as far as they go, cannot tell us whether any particular crime is underreported by one-tenth of one percent or 1,000 percent.

            • Blasius

              Logical thinking is never archaic. The abuse and the cover-up got worse after Vatican II. When the rigorous training got replaced by “shake and bake” seminaries, the quality went down. Thank God for the SSPX and the Traditionalist Groups who differ in strategy but not in the preservation of the Faith. The Novus Ordo Church, on the other hand, cut itself loose from Catholicism. The promise of Jesus that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Catholic Church remains in force, but it requires those who claim to be Catholic to recognize where the Faith is.

  • JERD

    Not to worry. Through the filter of its own prejudices and ignorance, the secular world and its media render judgment upon those who have faith in Christ. Its judgement though is merely temporal and temporary. We may presently suffer from bigotry and injustice because of our faith. But, who are the winners ultimately and eternally is not in doubt!

    • MAT

      Two of the very good ones are Fr Schall of Georgetown and Fr. Koterski of Fordham U.

  • http://twitter.com/gkissel gkissel

    Pope Francis: An echo of 1492.

    • James Stagg

      Specifics, please. I am unlearned. I only know something of Columbus’ voyage in 1492 (“sailed the ocean blue”). What do you have in mind?

      • Tony

        The second most important thing that happened in 1492 was the expulsion of the Moors from their last beachhead in Spain, Granada. Ferdinand arranged for the bloodless expulsion of the Moorish duke Boabdil and his people (the end was bloodless, I mean). The story, actually, would have been known to high schoolers in the 19th century from Bulwer-Lytton’s fictional account, which made it to one of the McGuffey readers (I believe it was McG).

    • StNikao

      Thank GOD for January 2, 1492 – when evil Islam was defeated at Cordoba, Spain and put back in its place.

      May it happen again as Isaiah 31:8-9 predicts – that Islam (Assyria) will be defeated by the sword, not the material sword of man, but the Sword (Word) of GOD.

      Islam always rises up as GOD’s rod of discipline when the people of GOD rebel and fall into sin. Isaiah 10:5

      The Church (and secular culture) today, Catholic and Protestant, has fallen into sin and ruin, as GOD told Francis of Assisi, and it must be revived and rebuilt through repentance. II Chronicles 7:14

      Blessed is the nation whose GOD is the Lord. Psalm 33:12

  • Taylor

    I am filled with hope and joy by our new pope. Apart from the fact that he seems such a genuinely nice, humble guy, he brings with him the admirable intellectual tradition of the Jesuits. in a world marked by rampant materialism, consumerism, and the pressure to acquire ever more baubles and status or be dismissed as worthless, Francis offers a refreshingly modest and down-to-earth approach. He has kissed the feet of AIDS patients and has personally rejected the life of comfort and ease he could so easily have embraced as a cardinal. He lives simply and cooks for himself. As a rich American, I need to consider his words, “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.” In saying this, he does not appear judgmental of those (like me) who have the wealth. Rather his concern is for those who don’t have it. Even his strongly stated messages are somehow gentle, encouraging, and uplifting. His choice of the name Francis is perfect. He appears to be a truly good man, and I look forward to learning more from and about him.

  • Cheryl Schroeder Basile

    “As Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in the mid-1970′s,
    Bergoglio lost the support of the fellow members of his order as they
    moved to the left, and he was essentially marginalized by being named
    rector of the Society’s seminary in San Miguel. His ecclesiastical
    career might well have gone no further had it not been for the
    intervention of Pope John Paul II, who elevated him to bishop and later
    to cardinal.”

    A prime example of how we, as humans, try to control our destiny according to our own whims, rather than listen to the voice of God. Despite this, Our Father in heaven doesn’t give up on us. His hand touches us in the subtlest ways, and often through those who are closest to him in prayer. Like using Pope John Paul II to elevate a man who might otherwise be forgotten. A man whom we would need decades later to lead us away from the materialism and commercialism of our world, and back to the simpler ways of God. We are so blessed to have a loving Father in heaven who stands by us through thick and thin. Deo Gratias.

  • James Stagg

    ” The majority of the world’s Catholics today reside in Latin America,……”

    Good article, Mr. Richert. Very well done, but beware of statistics: South America is listed as 300 million Catholics out of 1.2 billion world-wide. Substantial, but not a “majority”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scott.p.richert Scott P. Richert

      Mr. Stagg, you must have loaded the page up earlier today and just now read it. I’d caught my own error and had the editor change it to “A plurality.”

  • Jeff

    Happy to see a Jesuit become pope. Like others who have expressed their views in this thread, I do not agree with every single teaching of the Church, but this guy appears genuinely to want to emulate the examples of both Christ and St. Francis of Assisi. He has a servant heart, embraces the poor, lives simply, and, while being unambiguous about sexual morality, his approach appears more protective than judgmental of “sinners”. I am impressed by his response to priests who refused to baptize babies born out of wedlock. As we’ve probably all read by now, he said, “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation.” How refreshing to approach problems with love and wisdom, rather than with the tired old angry scolding that has alienated millions. Francis looks like he’s going to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

    • Tony

      I agree, Jeff, except that I don’t know what “tired old angry scolding” there has been. I have not heard a sermon against fornication in 40 years. The trouble is that the sexual sins have not been taken seriously. Time for a lot of soul-searching among the laity, and repentance.

      • Jeff

        Tony, there has been a great deal of self-righteous and angry scolding of sexual “sinners” by media moguls, by politicians, and by some very vocal church leaders, not all of them with the cleanest of records themselves. These sex-obsessed sermonizers with their extra-marital affairs, their serial marriages, their rent boys, and their coverups/perpetration of sexual abuse of children and young teens, have left many disappointed and cynical about religion in general. If the scolds could just tear their minds away from their prurient, ever-intrusive, and compulsive thoughts about other peoples’ sex lives, even briefly, perhaps they would be able to communicate a broad view of Catholic teaching that would stimulate spiritual growth rather than a gag reflex. I’m beginning to think Francis might be the man to do that. I’m hopeful.

  • Charles Lewis, Toronto

    Very nice piece, Scott. I think all of us should take a nice long holiday from what the New York Times has to say about the Church (Ross Douthat excepted). They, and much of the media simply do not understand how it works and don’t seem to want to bother to find out. Last night I found a new John Allen book called “The Catholic Church: What Everyone Need to Know.” It’s only $9 on Kindle and even Catholics will benefit from it as a refresher. Take a look and then contact your local liberal church commentator and suggest it should be read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.mather Leonard Mather

    Here is a fun thing to play with the next time a Catholic encounters another who claims to be Catholic. Ask if s/he can name three Holy Days of Obligation other than Christmas and Easter. Should they say, New Year’s Day, although correct, inquire if they can name the Saint being honored. Probably not. Or, if the person names The Immaculate Conception, make some inquiry as to whose conception it was. Most often the person believes it to have been that of Christ Jesus’ in Mary’s womb. Not quite. There are 6 Holy Days of Obligation.

  • pbecke

    ‘And in the wake of Cardinal Bergoglio’s election, the Gray Lady’s
    headline editors could not hide their disappointment: “Argentine Pope
    Will Make History, but Backs Vatican Line.” Who would have guessed that
    the new pope would be a Catholic?’

    That creased me up. It’s a keeper. The last sentence says it all.

  • Silvia

    God bless our new pope, Francis. He has given a truly humble impression.

    I also pray with fervor that the simplicity displayed in papal vestments – no mozzetta for ex.-

    won’t spill over into “simplicity” in the liturgy and music.
    We were totally shocked, and saddened, beyond words, at the bad music in the Catholic church, even in the Basilica, before the papacy of pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, who with his musical genius understood that bad music was synonymous with bad respect for the liturgy. So far, the music during the ceremonies in St Peter’s and elswhere with pope Francis, have been marked by an uplifting beauty and sarcedness.
    Beauty is very essential in faith, just as Henry de Lubac so eloquently described it.
    We are absolutely convinced bad music is one of the main reasons that millions of catholics in the west stopped going to Mass, in the 70’s and 80’s.
    Silvia

  • Jude

    Your attitude in this article towards the previous papacies seems to be significantly different that your article that I last commented on on about.com.

  • Caesar

    pope francis is a disaster. he is anti-fatima. he must consecrate russia. he must stop talking nonsense.

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