It is a momentous moment – when the College of Cardinals picks a Pope.
John Paul II became pope when I was 19 or so. I don’t remember that day, but I have a vivid recollection in 1981 of the day he was shot. He was pope for 28 years. He was not Italian, but Polish – first time in 600 years the pope wasn’t Italian. He had personally known the oppression of the Nazis. He spread the Gospel around the world – being the most-travelled pope in history. He attracted the youth. But, in all, he maintained his conservatism. He didn’t waiver in the face of moral relativism and secularism.
When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, they chose a German who called himself Benedict XVI. He was the odds-on-favorite – a disciple of Christ and a disciple of John Paul II. He was always to be a transitional leader. His reign would be shorter, his influence less. He resigned before his term was up. That will probably be his legacy.
As I waited for the announcement, the pundits speculated and spoke of his mission – attract new members, clean up the Vatican, reform.
But would they revert to an Italian pope? Or would they look to America (North or Latin)…or Asia…or Africa?
“Habemas Papum!” Jorge Mario Begoglio. Pope Francis. “Viva il Papa!”
He came in second last time.
But in one of his first acts, he showed his humbleness. He asked the people to pray for him before he prayed for them. Theirs was spontaneous – his was written. They both were special.
He has been described as a man of the people. He is now The Father of the Church.
Pope Francis – this man from “the end of the earth” - called for a “worldwide brotherhood.”
May God bless him as he takes that message to all.