Sometimes using the wrong verb seems pretty important. I’m not talking the “May I?” or “Can I?” that is an issue with English majors like my wife. I’m talking about the recent use on my favorite radio NPR station where they talked about the recent “appointment” of the Pope. It seemed to me that with all the talk about ballots, there had been an “election” or at the very least a “selection”. And the reason I am concerned about the distinction is Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.
Only one Pope before resigned from the Papacy and he was in fact “appointed” by the Cardinals because they couldn’t agree on a successor and felt this holy hermit could be easily manipulated.
Turns out they were wrong and he was rapidly and easily coerced into resigning. So they could elect a compromise candidate.
It does bring up the issue of what Pope Francis will do and how well that will fit into the hopes of the Cardinals who elected him.
The general feeling is that he is truly dedicated to the poor, expressing that from the beginning by his choice of name. His actions as an Archbishop in Argentina would support that position, but we may get something more. His history of interface with the Presidents Kirchner, ruling husband and widow, show courage and a resolve to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. This is a man used to accomplishing things.
|Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio|
His popularity with the Islam faction in Argentina may also bode well for the near future of the Catholic Church. A lesser known fact about St. Francis of Assisi is that he went safely through the enemy lines during the Crusades and met with and (unsuccessfully) tried to convert the Sultan. Perhaps Pope Francis may have better luck. His simple lifestyle, the leaving the trappings of the office, like ornate vestments and a bulletproof vehicle, should appeal to the Muslim sense of simplicity in life.
|Statue of St. Francis|
I am pleased that he explained why he chose Francis as his Papal name. A favorite joke explains why this might have been a problem. There have been several saints named Francis; one of the more famous is St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Jesuit order, of which Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio belonged. The story deals with a man who made several bad choices:
He wanted to fly from Chicago to Boston and had to decide what time to leave: 10:00 AM or noon? Noon.
Then what airlines, since two had noon flights: American or United? United.
The plane developed serious engine problems and passengers were given a choice to bail out with one of a limited number of parachutes, or remain on board and hope for landing survival: Bail out.
When he pulls the ripcord, nothing happens and he cries out, “St. Francis, help me!”
A voice comes from the clouds, asking, “Would that be St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier?”
I’m glad Pope Francis cleared that up.
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