His first appearance at the main balcony of St. Peter’s and his first speech say a lot about him. Perhaps we expected to see a Pope waving with his both hands spread wide and yet we have seen a man who almost seemed timid and waved slightly with one hand. More than timid I think he was overwhelmed with what has come over him… it had not sunk in yet. His first greeting was not the usual “Sia lodato Gesù Cristo” “Praised be Jesus Christ” but, “My bothers and sisters… good evening!” This man who, according to Pope Francis himself, has been brought from the ends of the earth to be the Bishop of Rome, has immediately connected with his people. He is a learned and wise man but at the same time he knows how to connect with people and how he can win them over.
The name that he chose for himself, that of Francis, reveals a lot about him and his way of leading. He has taken upon himself not one of the names of the other great popes, but came up with a new one. It exudes simplicity, humility, charity and poverty, the characteristics of his now patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. Perhaps, as Francis of Assisi was called to rebuild St. Damiano’s Church, the new Pope feels that he is called to reform and strengthen the Catholic Church and give it a new image.
This does not mean that he will sacrifice the teachings of the Catholic Church to make it look attractive to what the world wants. This will not be reform and strengthening but betrayal. What I believe that he will do is that he will help all believers to build this new image, an image of simplicity, humility, poverty and charity while at the same time he will challenge us to live a more authentic Christian life based on the values of Jesus and his Gospel.
He told the people of Rome and with them all believers, that the church’s journey has to be a journey of brotherhood in love, a journey of mutual trust, a journey where we sustain one another with prayer and a great sense of brotherhood. Thus we can be better equipped to evangelize one another.
Will you join in this journey?