Will Pope Francis surprise the modern world?
Anytime a new pope is elected, people around the world wonder what it means not only for everyday Catholics but for the world at large. The modern world is no exception. The fact that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was so dark a horse that he’d been excluded from the common list of contenders circulating prior to the Habemus Papam announcement is the first note of wonder.
Why do we even have this new pope…now?
Yes, Cardinal Bergoglio been excluded due to age but perhaps that’s because, once again, people put their own assumptions ahead of God’s plan for the church. Benedict XVI did not step down due to age. He primarily cited health reasons. More specifically he felt someone else, not him, was needed to guide the church through the waters ahead. If you believe that Benedict XVI is a man of deep prayer and immersed in the Holy Spirit, then you ultimately realize that perhaps the Holy Spirit’s intervention prompted his resignation.
My response has been why? What is it that the world needs? For I do believe that Benedict XVI fulfilled his duty and mission as proscribed by the Holy Spirit. He completed his work, and so, finally, he received the Lord’s blessing of “Well done, my son” and was allowed to step down.
The fact that we even have a new pope is, in itself, a wonder because the resignation of Benedict XVI shocked the world.
What does the new pope bring to the world?
Already, Pope Francis has shown a light on the path he’ll take by his very name, Francis. Many believe his papal name’s inspiration is drawn from Saint Francis of Assisi, others proclaim the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier. Given Cardinal Bergolio’s penchant for a simple lifestyle and great heart for charity, it’s clear that he walks in the sandals from Assisi; but remember, St. Francis was a reformer, called by the Holy Spirit to rebuild the church.
St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit, expressed the missionary outreach that is so needed today in this secular world. As a Jesuit, the new pope brings the practical discernment of Ignatian spirituality. It would not be a surprise to see Pope Francis exhibit a blending of the two spiritualities as he steers the church forward.
What can Catholics — and the world — expect from our new Pope Francis?
I believe the new pope will usher in a call to a simpler way of life and, above all, a life of charity. Pope Francis exhibits both and is a walking witness for the world to emulate. He is not a radical in that he will change the core teachings of the Church or move us in a different direction than previous from John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Instead he’ll take us even deeper into the personal daily expression of Christ’s call to the world. What it means to be Christlike.
Like many, I was touched by his request for prayer from the world. We gave him our blessing and he gave us his. He is a humble man. He lives and advocates a simple lifestyle. I think it was no accident that he chose the name Francis as a way to not only reach Catholics but to capture the world at large. For if there is any Catholic saint who is beloved by the secular world, it is Francis of Assisi.
Francis of Assisi worked wonders. The new Pope Francis evokes surprise. First in many things, we can only wonder at what he will bring to his fellow Catholics and to the world at large as we walk with him into a renewed, deeper, journey into the faith.
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