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Francis Steps In

April 1, 2013
Pope Francis I appears for first time on balcony of St. Peter's Basilica
The shared experience of this historic papal transition has made the new Pope headline news. The media, along with the international community, has been sharing this buzz for weeks. Francis is now a public figure and a celebrity. He’s smart, humble, social, and poor in spirit. What a fresh face for Catholics worldwide!
Amidst the blinding stream of articles, reports, analyses and posts this month, I spotted one blog that made me chuckle with its witty sarcasm:
“Liberals think he’s going to ordain women and give the thumbs up to abortion and homosexual marriage. It’s the age of Aquarius, grab your tambourine! Let’s conga line through the Vatican. Alleluia, cha-cha-cha!
Conservatives are in mourning, wailing and gnashing their teeth over the thought of Tango masses in St. Peter’s and women getting their feet washed on Holy Thursday. The Church is doomed! Doomed, I say. Did you see his tacky wooden pectoral cross? I could just die!”
It seems the world cannot agree on where Francis fits. Schemas are malfunctioning as we stare in amazement: He stopped the Pope-mobile to bless someone? He spent years in poverty and devout prayer? He washed the feet of AIDS patients? Newsflash: the Church has always sought justice for the oppressed and forgotten. There’s no denying that the Church needed reminding of that, so thank goodness for this perfect leading example of mercy. But that is exactly what the Pope ought to be: a vessel for Christ to the world. As Francis says himself, "Christ is the centre of church, not the pope. Christ guides the church. The church has structure, but is not a political institution."
Of course religion and politics will naturally meet. What many fail to realize is that the Church, although littered with politics from being part of this human world, is still very, very divine. As the universe hushed in that moment where His Holiness was being revealed on St Peter’s balcony, Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged - mirroring that same surprised expression that the world was giving him. He is the choice that shook us all. I could just hear all the voices sharing the same phrase, But he wasn’t one of the candidates! Indeed he wasn’t. And that’s just the beauty of it. It just shows us that the Holy Spirit trumped what everyone thought to be a strictly political election process, and voila! “The Pope of Surprises”.
Pope Francis is neither liberal nor conservative. Neither Green nor Puritan. He’s just Catholic, and he’s exactly what the world needs. And like any of the Popes before him, he’s merely revealing a different dimension of Christ
This blog comes to us from Leanna Cappiello, a former S+L intern who recently graduated from Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario. Leanna is currently living in New York City, where she works as an intern at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations.
(Photo courtesy of CNS/ Catholic Press Photo)
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