Jesus and the Poor
It is a great joy that the Cardinal electors have chosen Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as our new Pope Francis. Like so many others, I watched the TV broadcasts on Wednesday night. We were at supper when the news came through that white smoke had issued from the Sistine Chapel. My heart sank. Early white smoke after one day of balloting can only mean one thing, I thought: the Curia have succeeded in getting their least worst option elected. I began to think someone Italian, probably Scola.
Later, as French Archbishop Traunon made the announcement in Latin, I was stunned as it dawned on me that whoever the new Pope was it was not Cardinal Scola. But who was this Cardinal Bergoglio. The TV screen went silent. Clearly, the commentators were just as puzzled as I was. I held my head in my hands as I thought to myself: “He’s Italian. It must be some obscure Curia hack. Oh no!” Then, somebody in the room more knowledgeable than I, said,”It’s the Buenos Aires guy!” I raised my hands in celebration. This man I knew. I was aware of his track record in Buenos Aires.
The Buenos Aires Poor
Our new Pope Francis follows his namesake in his care for and love of the poor. A few years ago I visited La Cava, a slum in the heart of one of Buenos Aires’ wealthiest districts, San Isidro. Students from the Cardinal Newman Christian Brothers College, a highly-regarded private college in the district, spend much of their free time with the people in La Cava. It was amazing to me that so much poverty could exist in an otherwise wealthy area. Later, I had the opportunity of visiting a rural barrio where there was also extreme poverty. Archbishop Bergoglio was a frequent visitor to the poor people in these places.
TROCAIRE Talk: Brother Philip Pinto
Brother Philip Pinto, the Congregation Leader of the Christian Brothers, is a kindred spirit to Pope Francis. Like him Brother Pinto sees the Gospel through the eyes of poor people. Recently, Brother Philip was invited to address an audience in Maynooth on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of TROCAIRE, the Irish version of CARITAS Internationalis. You can view his talk here on iCatholic. His talk was, “Who is my neighbour? Building a civilisation of love in an unequal world” (also available as a transcript from the i Catholic website).
We are entering upon a time of great Hope
This is a time of great blessing and new hope for our Church with people like Brother Pinto and Pope Francis as prophetic voices among us. It is time to end the ‘culture wars’ in the Church. It is time to return to the person and message of Jesus of Nazareth. It is time to listen to poor people and do our thinking from that place.
I listened to Sister Julie of the Congregation of Jesus on the BBC World Service on the evening of the election. She quoted Archbishop Tagle of Manila (who had attended the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012) as saying that what we need now is a Church that is humble, simple and listening. “Tonight,” she said, “we got all three.”
With our new pope, Pope Francis, there will be a release of new energy in the Church. His voice is authentic. His actions speak volumes. His spirituality is grounded in the Gospel. Don’t expect the kind of changes that the media have been interested in. Some of them will take place – in time. But do expect immediate action on a number of fronts. A man who has spoke out against corruption in Argentina is not likely to tolerate even a whiff of corruption in the Vatican.
Stanley Hauerwas on the new Pope
Stanley Hauerwas, a staunch methodist and highly-regarded ethicist, who once taught at Notre Dame and currently at Duke University, has provided one of the most trenchant and thoughtful interpretations of the implications of the election of Pope Francis for the Church. Hauerwas has little time for ‘liberal Christianity’ but has always been a promoter of ‘authentic Christianity’. Watch the video below to find out more.