Archives For: Pope Francis

Francis: Another Mediocre Novelty?

Mar 13 2013 @ 11:12pm


That’s Dougherty’s concern – and the possibility that Francis was actually the candidate of the old guard in the Curia:

A contentious reading of Pope Francis’ rise is that Benedict’s enemies have triumphed completely. It is unusual for a one-time rival in a previous election to triumph in a future one. And there is almost no path to Bergoglio’s election without support from curial Italians, combined with a Latin American bloc. Low-level conspiracy theories already flourish in Italy that Benedict’s resignation was the result of a curia determined to undermine his reforms. This election will only intensify that speculation. An older pope who does not know which curial offices and officers need the ax, will be even easier to ignore than Benedict.

The more I read about his role during the dirty war of the 1970s, the queasier I get. This is not an encouraging detail about a priest under Bergoglio’s authority who was convicted of seven homicides and 40 torture sessions:

Father von Wernich was allowed to continue to celebrate Mass in prison, and in 2010, a church official said that “at the appropriate time, von Wernich’s situation will have to be resolved in accordance with canonical law.” But Cardinal Bergoglio never issued a formal apology on behalf of the church, or commented directly on the case, and during his tenure the bishops’ conference was similarly silent.

Only in November 2012, a year after Cardinal Bergoglio had stepped down as head of the bishops’ conference, did the group address the issue of its role during the dictatorship.

We need a Pope unafraid of airing the dirtiest of laundry. But if Bergoglio kept silent in the face of government assassins and torturers, and didn’t de-frock a torturer-murderer priest, why would he be vigilant about child rape? This line from Dougherty struck a chord about the current turbulence:

Benedict’s papacy, which focused on “continuity,” seems like the exception to an epoch of stunning and unsettling change, which—as we know—usually heralds collapse.

(Painting: St Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus, by Caravaggio.)

Face Of The Day

Mar 13 2013 @ 8:28pm

The Conclave Of Cardinals Have Elected A New Pope To Lead The World's Catholics

People stand in St. Peter’s Square as they listen to newly elected Pope Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who will take the name Pope Francis on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

He’s the first Pope to come from a country where gays can legally marry – and the unhinged tone of his internal letter actually helped build support for equality, rather than diminish it. Maybe he learned a lesson. Maybe not. And maybe in the end, it doesn’t matter.

Quote For The Day II

Mar 13 2013 @ 6:00pm

“But didn’t Jesus say, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16.18)? Yes, but he also ordered his disciples not to seek rank among themselves (Mark 9.33-37), and said “Do not call any man on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” (Matthew 23.9, NEB). How do we reconcile these sayings? G. K. Chesterton gave the best answer. Christ, founding his church, did not choose Peter because he was above others, but because he was not above them:

He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man… All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by a strong man upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.

In the coming election, we do not have to fear Dante’s hell-bound popes, Acton’s mass-murderer popes, or Newman’s in-need-of-death pope. Happily, we can expect the new pope to be a man ordinary and ignorable, like Saint Peter,” – the great Garry Wills.

A New Pope: Tweet Reax

Mar 13 2013 @ 5:49pm


Above image from the One Tiny Hand tumblr. More tweets after the jump:

Read On

The Conclave Of Cardinals Have Elected A New Pope To Lead The World's Catholics

5.43 pm. He celebrated Rosh Hashana in 2007,

saying that he was there to examine his heart, “like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers.” “Today, here in this synagogue, we are made newly aware of the fact that we are a people on a journey and we place ourselves in God’s presence,” the cardinal said. “We must look at him and let him look at us, to examine our heart in his presence and to ask ourselves if we are walking blamelessly…. Even if your sins are scarlet, they will become white as snow, he promises us; even if they are red like crimson, they will be like wool… In the end we are asked not to hide these, our errors, this meanness, this sin in its totality […] but to place them in front of God’s eyes — that Lord who forgives and is patient.

That’s what the church needs: humble solidarity with our fellow believers of all kinds, and a refusal to look away from our own iniquity.

5.37 pm. Stanley Hauerwas:

It’s remarkable that they’ve chosen a Jesuit. That’s even more remarkable than choosing a non-European. That he’s a Jesuit says so much about his commitment to the poor, and that he’s taken the name of Francis — in recollection of Saint Francis of Assisi — clearly gestures that the Roman Catholic Church not only serves the poor, the Roman Catholic Church is the church of the poor.

Now for a real battle within American Christianity: the “church of the poor” or the Prosperity Gospel?

5.28 pm. Assisi or Xavier? Many readers think Francis may be nodding to the co-founder of the Jesuits, Saint Francis Xavier, rather than of Assisi. I assumed Assisi because the former invariably has the Xavier attached (so many Catholic boys were once named Francis X. O’Sullivan or whatever), and because of the new Pope’s focus on poverty and humility. And Pope Francis, unlike Xavier, is not a globe-trotter or known for missionary work. But I may be wrong. We should find out soon enough.

5.24 pm. This Pope will give Paul Ryan heartburn:

Francis also seems to be an opponent of austerity, most notably during his time as spiritual leader of Argentina when the country defaulted on its debt in 2002 … When the debt crisis hit in 2002, the church called in strong terms for a debt restructuring to take place which privileged social programs above debt repayment. They argued that the true problems in the Argentinian economy were, in their words, “social exclusion, a growing gap between rich and poor, insecurity, corruption, social and family violence, serious deficiencies in the educational system and in public health, the negative consequences of globalization and the tyranny of the markets.”

5.20 pm. He has a background in chemistry. Hank Campbell cheers:

As I have noted before, we have had back-to-back Popes with solid support for science. It isn’t going to satisfy every militant who thinks every form of biology should be embraced (yet don’t complain at all that the Obama administration bans somatic cell nuclear transfer) but the Catholics have the oldest science institute in the world, Galileo was one of its first presidents, and this carries on a long tradition of advancement of science among Catholics.

Pope Francis is a humble man and that’s good, because 21st century science is humbling. The world is going to change pretty fast.

One merciful thing about Catholic Christianity: no denial of evolution.

5.16 pm. A reader writes:

“The Pope is the successor of the Apostle who was graced with faith, and still denied Christ, cowered in fear with the other male apostles in the upper room after Jesus’ death, and would have us still circumcising boys and eating kosher. Yet managed to serve God.”

We are all sinners, and the Gospels tell us that the first leader of the church was one of the greatest.

5.14 pm. I have a feeling this book is going to get translated pretty soon.

5.09 pm. Why American conservatism is so sick:

5.03 pm. Some more details on Bergoglio’s relationship with the dictatorship of the late 1970s and early 1980s:

Read On

A tick-tock of the traditional ceremonies just occurring behind the scenes. Money quote:

The new Pope, accompanied by Msgr. Marini and some assistants, will then enter the “Room of Tears,” a small, simple room situated immediately behind Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. There, they will help him to divest his scarlet robes and don the traditional white vesture of a pope.

Three sizes of soutane (cassock), large, medium and small, and made by the famous local Gammarelli vestment makers, will be waiting for him. Each can be rapidly adjusted to meet his personal requirements. In addition, he will be attired in the traditional white moiré silk fascia and skull cap, the lace rochet (surplice), a crimson silk mozzetta (a sort of shoulder cape), red morocco leather slippers and an elaborate gold-embroidered red-velvet stole.

Hence the wait between the smoke and the appearance on the balcony on which my eyes are now fixed.

The Science Of The Smoke

Mar 13 2013 @ 2:50pm

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.59.58 PM

A timely explainer from Philip Ball:

The smoke comes partly from the burning of ballot papers in a special stove in the chapel. But to colour it white or black, this smoke is mixed with that from chemical additives burnt in a second stove. Traditionally the Vatican produced the different colours by burning wet straw for white and tarry pitch for black.

Anyone who has ever made a bonfire knows that damp grass will work for the former; the less responsible of you will know that chucking old tyres or roofing felt into the flames will turn the smoke black – and what’s more, noxious, because it is then full of sooty carbon particles that can clog the lungs and are potentially carcinogenic.

It’s not concern for the environment that has led the Vatican to change its ways, however. Rather, the smoke in some previous elections came out an ambiguous grey, prompting the decision for the last conclave in 2005 to use a more reliable method based on chemical ingredients.

The Vatican has now revealed what these are. For black, it uses a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene and sulphur; white comes from potassium chlorate, lactose and the conifer resin called rosin, which is also used to lubricate violin strings. We needn’t imagine a team of Vatican chemists labouring like alchemists to devise these magic recipes, because what they really show is that the Vatican is making plain old smoke bombs.

(Screenshot from the site

Habemus Papam!

Mar 13 2013 @ 2:21pm

We have white smoke. Stay tuned. As by the usual modern standards, this was pretty quick: