Ten years ago, when I heard about the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Borgoglio from Argentina I wrote this piece on my FaceBook wall:
I woke up this morning to the news that the newly elected Pope is from Argentina, is a 76-year-old Jesuit and took on the name of Francis. As I watched the CNN’s news coverage and saw how he looked, I was reminded of the Jesuits who taught me at ADDU from 1963-67. Pope Francis’ face echoed the facial features of some of those beloved teachers.
I would like to assume that he belongs to that generation of Jesuits who taught their students to be critical thinkers while deepening their compassion for the disadvantaged and marginalized. Many of us were taught well by them and we take pride in having received this gift. With this assumption, I look forward with deep hope to the future of our Mother Church. With Pope Francis at the very center of this institutional Church, we dare to hope that our leaders will empower us to be critical thinkers and yet be filled with compassion.
I sleep tonight comforted with the thought that today is the first day of a contemporary church history that celebrates a Christianity that truly makes all of us salt of the earth!
The other day, my FaceBook wall reminded me that I had posted the above message to my friends. It provoked me into writing this message which I posted on the anniversary of his election ten years ago. Today he would be 87 years old (as he was born in December 17, 1936) and news reports show that he is not in the best of health. Still there is no sign that he would be resigning soon, as I intuit that he believes he still has a lot of things in his mind that he would like to share to all of us in the next few years. For sure, there is still the culmination of the Synodal Project in 2024 (which was supposed to finish by 2023 but he had postponed it to another year). If his document on Synodality comes out in 2024, I am sure we will be in for more surprises. The following is what I posted on my FB wall yesterday:
I wrote this piece (the one above) in March 2013 when Pope Francis began his Papacy…ten years ago. Within that decade he had issues significant apostolic exhortations like Laudato Si, Evangelii Gaudium, Praedicate Evangelium, Gaudete et Exsultate, Fratelli Tutti etc. as well as given talks and homilies which have pursued further the call of Vatican II. More than any Pope within my 70-decade of a lifetime has there been a Pope this prophetic, this courageous & this relevant to the context of our times! Among the major concerns he has exhorted all followers of Jesus Christ to commit themselves to include: making a preferential option for the poor (especially migrants, refugees, indigenous peoples), be engaged in ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue and commit to responding to the cry of the poor and Mother Earth! Meanwhile, he has championed lay participation in the Church and makes it possible for them to even be part of the Roman Curia!
I can say that the hope that filled my heart on hearing his election as Pope has not been squandered! And yet the irony is that while the head of our Church provides the most fitting example how it is to be a true pastor concerned with demanding that all of us make a preferential option for the poor… down at our Local churches we are lacking of pastors who embody Pope Francis’ vision of Synodality church. Which is why he continues to denounce clericalism in the Church today!
We pray that Pope Francis will still have a few more years of his papacy to pursue the goals of SYNODALITY and that he be protected from all those who would rather demonize him! Thank you dear Pope Francis for your witness which continue to inspire us!