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March 16, 2013

What I Think of the Election of Pope Francis

By John Sanidopoulos

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope on Wednesday received much attention around the world for various reasons. The attention continues as both Catholics and non-Catholics try to figure out who this "man of mystery" really is and what he stands for. The results, as expected, are either positive or negative depending on the source, though the majority consider it a positive choice in the right direction.

Quite a few have asked me what I think. My response is the same general response I always give when any secular or religious authority, Orthodox Christian or non-Orthodox, is fairly elected into office and service. Without taking account for anything in his past, whether positive or negative, my prayer is that God's will be done through him and that all those under his authority receive the Lord's blessing under his wise leadership. As for the future, time will tell. Beyond this, I have nothing else to say since I don't know the man personally.

One thing I did find interesting however was that Cardinal Jorge chose the name Francis upon his election, no doubt to associate his papal reign with both humility and reform, since Francis of Assisi was said to have been called by Christ to "rebuild my Church". However, a few days earlier, while in conversation with someone about who the new Pope will be, and whether or not he will be the last Pope, Petrus Romanus, mentioned in the Malachy "prophecy" of the last Popes, I expressed my serious doubts, since the elected Pope would have to change his name, and it would be highly doubtful he would take such an authoritative name as "Peter". I further mentioned that if I was a Catholic Cardinal and elected to be Pope, I would probably take the name of Francis, since he is among the most beloved and somewhat ecumenical of the post-schism Catholic saints, and there had never before been a Pope by that name. I also had in mind something Edgar Allan Poe wrote in his "Marginalia":

“We, of the nineteenth century, need some worker of miracles for our regeneration; but so degraded have we become that the only prophet, or preacher, who could render us much service, would be the St. Francis who converted the beasts” ("Marginalia" [15:225], Southern Literary Messenger, June 1849).

One could only imagine my surprise when I found out the new Pope would indeed be named Francis.