New pope and St. Francis-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Habemus Papam. We have a Pope. And his name is Francis.
It’s a new name. No pope has ever used it before. That probably explained the confusion on Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s papal name during the first few minutes after his election by the College of Cardinals. Some reports said he will go by the name of Pope Francis the First.
It was later clarified that the numeral has been dropped. The first Jesuit, first non-European and first Latin American pope in the history of the Catholic Church will be known simply as Pope Francis.
Since he was not among those that were considered “frontrunners” in the election of Pope Benedict XVI’s replacement, little has been known about the new pope. Now, we are told that he cooks, rides the bus and travels to the Vatican, economy class.
Priests who are uncomfortable with Spartan living conditions need not fret. They can continue to travel first class, drive or be driven in their BMWs and Pajeros and have their food prepared by Paciencia, Rosario or any other hired help or volunteer. I do not think the Pope will order a lifestyle check.
The new pope’s choice of name was probably meant to honor St. Francis Xavier, said to be the first Jesuit missionary and one of the founders of the Society of Jesus.
St. Francis did most of his missionary work in Asia but ironically, he never visited the Philippines, the cradle of Catholicism in the continent. The closest that he has been to a Philippine territory was in Borneo although it is not known whether it was in that part of the island that we now call Sabah.
I hope that Pope Francis will do better than the saint that he has named himself after by visiting our country. A pope’s visit always seems to have a positive effect on the Filipino nation’s psyche. Of course, we also always end up reverting to our old selves but that is another story.
Businessmen Ben Dapat, Dondi Joseph and Roger Lim mentioned it in their e-mail exchanges but I didn’t read the article written by Fr. Ramon D. Echica, dean of the San Carlos Seminary until a friend, who shall in the meantime remain unknown, sent me a copy the other day.
“The Catholic Vote, Anyone?” is a brilliant piece that everyone, Catholic or not, should read. Written obviously in response to organized, albeit unofficial, efforts by Church leaders to herd the Catholic faithful into voting for or against certain candidates in the coming elections, the article addresses the question of Catholic voting from two perspectives: the practicality and morality of a Church vote.
Fr. Echica doesn’t mince words. On the issue of the Team Patay, Team Buhay campaign posters, for example, he said that the moral division is wrong because its implicit premise is that reproductive health is the only issue facing us so that one’s position on the RH issue “becomes a litmus test” for his Catholicity. This is a myopic view, he said.
“Is a politician who plundered the nation’s coffers but who is against the use of condoms deserving of our vote,” Fr. Echica asks. “Has not plunder also caused the slow death of many poor people? He added that “the threat of a Catholic backlash does not address the conscience of politicians but merely appeals to their “ambitions or sense of political survival.”
The article ended with the author asking, who is afraid of the Catholic vote. “I am,” he replied. “I am afraid of its impact on the Church whose servant I am.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2013.