We have a pope!
The internet is bursting with the news of the new pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Cardinal of Buenos Aires has just been chosen as Pope. He has taken for himself the title Francis I, in honor, apparently, of Francis of Assisi.
A very interesting choice, by all accounts....
...the first Pope in a millennium from outside Europe.
...the first Jesuit to become Pope.
...the first Pope to take the name Francis.
But what I find even more interesting is the story of this humble cardinal who rode in the bus and subway to work everyday and refused to stay in the Archbishop's palace, choosing instead to stay in his own apartment, and cook his own meals. I find it interesting that he chose consistently to identify himself with his poor countrymen in the slums of Buenos Aires, and is known for caring for patients with AIDS, and remembered for fighting to welcome single mothers to his church, and agreeing to baptise their babies. I find his choice of name interesting.....Francis, named after Francis of Assisi, whose ministry, also, was to the poor and destitute
I read also with great interest the story of his controversial silence during the Dirty War, when 30,000 people died or disappeared during the 7 year period following the coup in 1976. I read the fascinating story of how he maintained public silence when two Jesuit priests were kidnapped and tortured (one of them later accused him of handing them over to the death squads), while resorting to extra-ordinary behind-the-scenes action to secure their release (he persuaded dictator Jorge Videla’s family priest to feign sickness, so that he could go to say mass at the dictator's house, and persuade him to set the priests free!)
And, now the story of his first few actions....choosing to travel with the other cardinals in a shuttle bus back to the Vatican rather than in the Papal limousine, standing on the same level with them, rather than on a platform (as is usually done) when he was presented to the world on the central balcony on St Peter's Basilica, choosing to greet the large crowd gathered below with the words "Brothers and sisters, good evening", and asking them to pray for him, rather than offering to bless them....
All in all, a very remarkable beginning.
I am glad the leader of almost half the world's "Christians" seems to demonstrate a desire to be a servant leader. I am glad to read reports calling him more a 'pastor' than a 'theologian'. I am glad to note the initial reluctance to begin 'power-posturing'.
I think we should begin to pray for this extra-ordinary man.
Possibly related posts from the past:
A Big Brother Models Servant Leadership