From what I’ve seen of Pope Francis in the last 24 hours, he appears to be a revolutionary – in the good sense.
After his election, he received all the cardinals standing, and not on the papal throne. After we saw him in the balcony, he headed back to where all the cardinals were staying for dinner. But instead of taking the special papal car, he got on the minibus with all the Cardinals. During dinner, he jokingly told them “May God forgive you” for what they had done by electing him.
This morning he was up early and headed over to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major’s to offer flowers to the Blessed Mother there. He drove in a simple service car – not the usual papal car again. On the way back to the Vatican, he stopped by the residence – “Paulus VI” near Piazza Navona - where he had been staying before the conclave to collect his belongings and pay his bill. Wow!
One of my friends told me that when Pope Francis was first named a Cardinal, the Italian tailor wanted to charge him €6,000 for his cassock. (mine cost about €400) Instead, he bought the cloth in Italy, and asked his sister to sew the cassock for him! Double Wow!
He chose the name “Francis” after Saint Francis of Assisi. By this he is definitely announcing to the world his intention to follow in the steps of the poor man of Assisi who won the hearts of Popes and Sultans by his humility and holiness.
In his first homily this afternoon to the Cardinals, he said: “when we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess a Christ without the Cross … we aren't disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.” Triple Wow!
Some might say, “oh, sure, and he wants to bring the Church back to the middle ages too!” To that I’d respond that for one, he is the first Pope who had his own Twitter and Facebook accounts before becoming Pope. Second, don’t judge your eggs until they’ve hatched: we need to keep our eyes on Francis in the days and months to come to try to truly understand him. What the newspapers and TV and bloggers are saying right now are just first impressions and hearsay and things from the past. Let’s try to listen to Francis himself and develop our own opinions.
In that vein, some have asked me where I get my news. I have three ways:
1) My eyes and ears- I live in Rome and try to read or listen to what the Pope actually says
2) I receive a daily email from the Vatican Information Service (sign up at http://mlists.vatican.va/mailman/listinfo/visnews_en )
3) I receive a daily email from Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)
I recommend using these sources because they give you Vatican News as it really happens – what the Pope says, who he meets with, what he does. Everything’s better straight from the horse’s mouth!
I better close here. I’m including some photos. In the rush yesterday, I forgot to include photos of Pope Francis as he came out. Here they are.
May God bless you!Brother Kevin
PS By the way, today is 9 months till my ordination, God-willing, as a priest.