|A Servant Leader -- Pope Francis I|
Following is the homily
given today to the seminarians at the Legion of Christ
novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut during the Mass in celebration of
the election of Pope Francis.
From the ends of the earth
I’m sure all of us this morning, in the
words of Fr. John Bartunek’s inspired and inspiring commentary yesterday
on MSNBC, are still deeply moved. Deeply moved
in the first place at the courage of all the
Cardinals, at their openness to the Holy Spirit, choosing the
first non-European Pope in over 1,000 years, and the first
Pope from South America in history—as well as the first
Jesuit Pope in history.
also at the providential care of God the Father watching
over his Church and watching over each of us as
he gave us a new Holy Father yesterday to guide
and shepherd us. Who could not discern a father’s love
in that warm smile and gentle demeanor, in that first
blessing that Pope Francis gave to more than a hundred
thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square?
Deeply moved, finally, at those first words of Pope
Francis, words that revealed the sort of Pastor the Holy
Spirit has chosen to guide Christ’s Church. After mentioning that
the Cardinals had gone “almost to the ends of the
earth” to find the new Bishop for Rome, his very
first words were of gratitude to the people in St.
Peter’s Square for the joy and love with which they
received him. Gratitude is the first mark of a humble
Then he asked everyone
to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict. Once again, showing his
gratitude for Pope Benedict’s Pontificate—and also his power to lead,
as millions of people from around the world who were
watching joined the Pope in prayer. Next he won over
the Italian people with those words “facciamo un cammino insieme.”
In Italy, everything is “un cammino insieme.” As long as
you’re walking together, everything is fine and will turn out
And he also used that
word that all of us were waiting to hear—evangelization! With
that one word he reveals the direction of his Papacy.
He has come to evangelize! To help set the world
on fire for Christ. Not to preach a prosperity Gospel,
or a Gospel of the God within, like we’ve been
reading about in the dining room—but to preach Christ and
his narrow road that leads to heaven. To win the
world over to the path of Christ.
A Church that is out on the
Regarding evangelization, Pope Francis would
be all in favor of our door-to-door missions. If you
don’t believe me, here’s what he just said not too
long ago as Cardinal:
to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church". "It´s
true that when you get out into the street, as
happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents.
However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential,
it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in
the street, and a church that´s sick because it´s self-referential,
I have no doubts about preferring the former."
Those are words of a man with the
courage to evangelize. Right where it counts—person to person, out
on the streets.
is Pope Francis?
His father was
an immigrant from Italy and he has four brothers and
sisters. When he was young he first wanted to be
a chemist, but then felt the calling to the priesthood
and religious life, so he entered the Jesuits.
He did theology studies in Germany—so he
is an accomplished intellectual.
to 1979 he was provincial in Argentina—and he always encouraged
his men to avoid the danger of liberation theology, but
to be true pastors to everyone—both rich and poor. He
is a man of great simplicity. A Prince of the
Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather
than the archbishop´s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine
in favor of taking the bus to work, and who
cooked his own meals.
a man with a great love for the poor.
“We live in the
most unequal part of the world, which has grown the
most yet reduced misery the least," Cardinal Bergoglio said during
a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. "The unjust
distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin
that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of
a fuller life for so many of our brothers."
At the same time, he has generally
tended to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for
He is a man
who has truly encountered Christ and his mercy.
"Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has
been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and
comfortable with the Lord," Bergoglio said in 2001. "I beg
the theologians who are present not to turn me in
to the Sant´Uffizio or the Inquisition; however, forcing things a
bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of
the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus
Christ on my sin."
this day of great joy, and during this time of
great joy, let us continue to pray for our new
Pope Francis. Let us commend the fruits of his papacy
to our mother Mary. And let’s be faithful to our
mission to evangelize Cheshire and the world.