Habemus Papam!

We had the white smoke and the bells of St Peters about fifty minutes ago. I’m watching Rome Reports live on the Internet.

I’ll edit this posting when we know who the new Pope is.

* * *

Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina leaves after praying at basilica in Rome

The new Pope is Cardinal George Bergoglio SJ who takes the Papal name Francis.

I don’t know what to say. I’ll look at the reactions.

Pope Francis asks our prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and is now praying the Our Father and Hail Mary in Italian. The emphasis is definitely on prayer. Evangelisation. Could this be like the response of St Francis of Assisi to the corruption of the bishops and priests in the thirteenth century? He is obviously a man of prayer and simplicity. There is also St Francis Xavier canonised with St Ignatius Loyola on 13th March 1622. Which Francis? Perhaps both…

The downside is that he doesn’t go down at all well with the traditionalists. On one blog, someone in Buenos Aires, his archdiocese until now, tells us that he “persecutes” orthodox priests and “de facto prohibited the application of Summorum Pontificum“. He doesn’t go down well with the progressives either, even if he will be using flat Novus Ordo. He is quite conservative in some ways and will stick to celibacy, no contraception, etc.

On the other hand, we get this commentary from Damian Thompson in Pope Francis I: a humble man from the New World whose first challenge is to end the scandals:

… a priest of holinesss and tremendous modesty of manner – a man who, until now, has taken the bus to work. His challenge is clear. He needs to learn from Benedict XVI’s greatest success – and his greatest failure. The success was the restoration of reverent, mystical worship to the centre of Catholic life, an achievement that has inspired a dynamic generation of young Catholics. The failure was Benedict’s inability to reform the corrupt structures of the Roman curia, which should be recognised as the rotten core of the abuse crisis, and which is likely to have loomed large as an issue in the conclave. The historic decision to choose a Pope from the New World will perhaps make that task easier.

We’ll see à l’usage. It’s no use judging – and actually presumptuous. Leave him to his job and see how he does over the next year or two.

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One Response to Habemus Papam!

  1. Stephen K says:

    The extract from Damian Thompson’s op-piece shows how we present history according to our desires: Mr Thompson clearly is a ‘traddie’ who places the supreme religious value (for the purposes of ‘achievement’) in the form and character of public liturgy. Now that is a perfectly unremarkable and human point of view, but there are many – and I am one of them – who would place a higher value in other things. It would be interesting to try to establish whether there was any correlation between the issue of Summorum Pontificum and the new translations etc with any increases in divisions within and departures from the church, because if there was, it might dampen the claim Mr Thompson makes that the restoration of mystical reverent worship to the ‘centre of Catholic life’ was either a success in fact or even a reality. From where I stand the impact of both has been marginal and swamped by other events. When one is in a ‘traditionalist’ milieu, one sees gold-embroidered vestments and hears sanctuary bells ‘all over the place’; if you are in a conventional and contemporary milieu the same tends to apply. (For the sake of the record, I am not against bells and incense and always promoted the ringing of the bells at the consecration).

    Apart from Mr Thompson’s aspirational assessment of Benedict’s success, I also remark how widely vague he identifies the problem of the “curial structures” as his “failure”. By all accounts, the curia is alternately heavy-handed, byzantine, cumbersome, corrupt, but there must be many who assiduously process the mountains of paperwork every day. Everyone is always quick to blame civil servants for the failings of the leaders and such scapegoating is often thoughtless and ill-considered.

    I think it is far too early to assess the “successes” and “failures” of Benedict. More than ever, we are beginning, I hope, to realise how fallible and frail and yet sometimes endearing or inspiring human individuals with good intentions trying to handle great responsibilities can be. We are all bound to disappoint some people some of the time and some people all of the time.

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