Special Report: The Beginning of a Humble Migrant's Papacy
A friend who was standing beside me, who is a long-time Vatican hand, said succinctly, 'That is literally stunning'
Francis made a particular point on the balcony to bow and literally listen to his people as the first act of being their pastor. And he asked them to bless him and pray for him before he would bless them. In that instant he incarnated his sometime surprising, but quintessential papal title: "The Servant of the Servants of God."
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - I have had the privilege to come on pilgrimage to Rome this week for the Conclave.
Wednesday night, as I came out of a memorable meeting with Thai Cardinal Michai, with whom I worked many years ago during the Cambodian Refugee Crisis, I found people coming in droves to Piazza San Pietro. They were coming in keen expectation to check out the color of the smoke that was due to be emitted from the Sistine Chapel stove pipe at any minute. All of the previous puffs had been black.
It was raining lightly, and the piazza seemed a sea of umbrellas.
I shared a general feeling that the time was propitious for the conclusion of the Conclave.
After about 15 minutes of watching the distant stove pipe, there was a wave of breaking voices announcing that their individual hopes had been realized: "E' bianco!!" ("It's white!").
For the first time in 600 years we now had two popes--one emeritus, and one about whom we were to immediately learn both his name and his spiritual profile, and then to "meet him" as he assumed his unique place on the world stage.
The nationalities represented amongst the Saint Peter's pilgrims gave witness that the apostles had faithfully fulfilled the Master's mandate to leave their home and bring the Good News to all nations.
Under the umbrellas one could hear the question being posed from one friend to another: "So, who do you think it is? Scola, Ouellet, Scherer?"-- referring to the front runner cardinals predicted with presumed infallibility by the secular press.
By this time, the piazza was becoming more and more populated, and the rain was letting up enough to allow the umbrellas to begin to fold.
Despite the enormous expanse of the piazza, standing space was becoming tight as people edged further and further toward the balcony above St Peter's central entry doors to catch a closer glimpse of Benedict's and Peter's successor.
The now-compressed crowd waited patiently for about 50 minutes as an Italian military band marched forward and positioned itself in a space reserved between the crowd and the basilica.
Attention focused on huge TV screens which ranged between shots of the white-smoked chimney, individuals in the crowd, and landscape views of the basilica, or close-ups of the huge clock. Cheers emerged when the lights of the vast rooms behind and on either side of the balcony became lit.
Close-ups then began of the balcony itself and its closed glass doors from which Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the French ProtoDeacon in charge of the Vatican's relations with Muslims, was expected to emerge. (The press had even speculated that had he not emerged, and had another cardinal been poised to make the announcement in his place, that fact would have itself told the story that C. Tauran was the Conclave's choice as he was also deemed "papabile").
Finally, further cheers when the drapes were drawn on the balcony doors and Cardinal Tauran did emerge.
As his light voice began to utter the age old formula: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum", a stunned hush fell upon the crowd as everyone looked at one another with the question, "Chi?," "Who?"
A friend who was standing beside me, who is a long-time Vatican hand, said succinctly, "That is literally stunning."
The silence continued as the camera focused on the seemingly similarly stunned Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires who came hesitatingly to the balcony like a martyr to the lions -- willing, but visibly hesitant. He looked in long silence upon the sea of humanity, who in turn gazed in expectation from the dark plaza below and the Via della Conciliazione beyond.
The new pope waited patiently for the Italian military band to perform its requisite pieces.
As the crowd anticipated the reassuring signs of jubilant papal warmth and waves, the cameras focused on a man dressed in simple white without the usual scarlet cape and heavy papal stole. His arms hung almost manikin like as he gazed through large glasses without a smile. My friend and I both remarked, "I hope he smiles. This could be a PR disaster."
We also recalled the strange similarity to the Italian movie we had recently seen, "Habemus Papam" which portrayed a newly elected and terrified pope as even afraid to come to the balcony.
This was our first inkling that this is going to be a very new papal chapter.
At this point, another mutual friend next to us broke the stunned silence in the piazza by beginning a loud chant that the crowd picked up: "FRAN/CHESS/KO", "FRAN/CHESS/KO". A second "Francesco" had just been immediately adopted by his new Italian flock and was ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Europe News
- Pentecostal Pope Calls Ecclesial Movements and the Whole Church to Newness, Unity and Mission
- Historic Meeting between Pope Francis and Coptic Patriarch, Tawadros II, Fosters Christian Unity
- Pope Francis Shakes up the Ambassadors Meeting and Addresses Economic Issues
- AU CONTRAIRE! Economic crisis has been 'pulling European public opinion apart'
- Pope Calls Whole Church to Encounter Jesus Christ Personally Through the Holy Spirit
- France ponder one percent 'Internet tax' to fund domestic computer production
- Pope Francis Canonizes 802 Saints: 800 Martyrs of Otranto and Two Latin American Foundresses
- Growth in Number of Catholics Worldwide, Along with Priests and Deacons
- Scientists confirm that Roman Empire was destroyed by plague
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?