A Jesuit pope!

A Jesuit pope!

Habemus papam! A Jesuit pope, no less! Despite the Society of Jesus being the largest order of priests for many centuries, Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be elected pope.

The Jesuits have bequeathed the Church many great saints. Heroic priests who were giants of their generation. Three of my favourites Jesuits — apart from St Ignatius Loyola I mean — are St Francis Xavier, Fr William Doyle, and Bl Miguel Pro. Perhaps Pope Francis will one day number among these great Jesuit saints. In the meantime, they will be praying for him!

By all accounts, our new pope is a holy and prayerful man, steeped in the Ignatian tradition. At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a tried and tested discernment of spirits, good and evil. That puts our Holy Father in good stead, I think, to navigate the treacherous waters ahead.

Perhaps his first task will be to act on the “secret report” on the Curia which Benedict commissioned and received, and which reportedly exposes a treacherous web within the Vatican. Perhaps.

The pope is not like a president or prime minister, who win office on a specific mandate to which he is held account. Pope Francis is accountable to our Lord, not to the cardinals who elected him. And he will exercise the office according to his own discernment, not according to a preconceived agenda.

A lot of people whom I spoke to in recent weeks had favourite papabile. A cardinal whom they backed and wanted to win. I hope they don’t feel like losers today; I hope they’re not disappointed in our new pope. That’s the danger, I think, in treating the conclave like a political campaign, and getting drawn into the “horserace coverage” which sells newspapers.

St Josemaría spoke to a group of Opus Dei men during the sede vacante of 1968. His words can be expanded to all of us. He reminded his listeners that a Catholic’s filial devotion to the Pope is not a cult of personality. It’s an esteem and affection for the office. That’s why he encouraged people to pray for the pope even before they knew who he was.

Having adopted Cardinal Sepe, I had my hands full until today. But now I will be able to follow Josemaría’s advice, and offer all my prayers and sacrifices for Pope Francis.

I would like to speak to you once more about the upcoming election of the Holy Father. You know, my sons, the love that we have for the Pope. After Jesus and Mary, we love the Pope with all the strength of our soul, whoever he may be. Therefore, we already love the Roman Pontiff who is to come. We are determined to serve him with our whole life.

Pray, and offer to our Lord even your moments of relaxation. We offer even this for the Pope who is to come, just as we have offered the Mass during all these days, just as we have offered even our breathing.

  • James Baptist

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you said Fr. John. Habemus Papam! We have a Pope!

  • Kerryn

    As always I have trust and faith that God would not give us a man that was not suitable for the job. Let us all pray that Pope Francis receives the prayers and support he needs to lead our Church in these difficult modern time.

  • MuMu

    Thank you so much, Fr John, for passing on the wisdom of St Josemaria and also your own! I watched the Pope come out on the balcony in a simple white cassock … after a few words in Italian, he prayed the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be – it was amazing to hear half a million voices praying with him. Then he asked everyone to pray for him silently and he bent his own head in silent prayer for all those in the square – perhaps for the whole Church.
    I love him already and am convinced he is a holy man. Viva il Papa!

  • Cathy

    Pope Francis seems a very pastoral man, with a great love for the poor and downtrodden. In a world were this is becoming more common, I believe he is a great choice set in place by the Holy Spirit. His recent words regarding the Church becoming nothing more than a compassionate NGO, non government organization, without faith.

    “We would end up a compassionate NGO. What would happen would be like when children make sand castles and then it all falls down.”

    His comments also reflected a need to have faith when promoting and acting social justice, to confess to Christ, to trust him and to use faith and charity together.
    Regarding his name choice, it strikes me as ” go and rebuild my church” the message that St. Francis received from Christ.

    May God Bless and keep the new Pope, and his clergy in these trying times.

  • Joel

    His first sermon also included this: “If you don’t pray to Christ, you pray to the devil”


    • matercula

      …and that would be where any analogy of Jose Maria Escriva and Pope Francis would end.

      It looks like we once again have a ‘style’ of Papacy to learn about and live with, but yes, through it all it is the ‘Office of the Papacy’ that we as Catholics have a duty to support and pray for.

      Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

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