Wednesday, March 13, 2013
On the Election of His Holiness Pope Francis
God bless the pundits and the policymakers. God bless the talking heads of the world who speak their opinion through media outlets and offices the world over. God bless them, because as influential as they may be in our world, there are forces more pervasive and things more real than the opinions of pundits and decisions of policymakers. This was shown in great energy and exuberance all over the world through a puff of smoke and two simple words: Habemus Papam.
Our world is drowning in opinions of every sort. Every moment of every day, we use our abundance of technology and sophistication to voice opinions of every sort, to the point where the world is saturated in the deafening roar of opinions. Now, I cringingly notice that my blogging is contributing to this, but if you can't beat them, join them. However, I am so extremely happy that the world is not just a pot pourri of opinion and policy. While opinions are important and all, and certainly should be expressed, debated, and developed, there has to be something more real than opinion, something more sublime than the policy decisions of whichever person or entity is in power.
Many people have taken the opportunity to say what they think the new Pope should and shouldn't do. Change this, reinforce that, deal with this, defend against that, etc. etc. Everyone seems to have an opinion regarding the new successor of Peter and what sort of views he should hold and policies he should institute, and the terrible risk of this is that we can reduce the Pope to a mere ideological talking head, just like the rest of us. We reduce the Chair of Peter to a really old and really loud megaphone through which we might scream and shout whatever sort of views or policies that the current iteration of old celibate churchman might hold. The Pope is certainly called to be chief pastor and evangelist of the Church, but there is something so much more powerful to the Petrine ministry than merely proclaiming a view.
We see this clearly in the proclamation of the Cardinal Proto-deacon on the balcony of the Basilica of St. Peter: "Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope!)" With two words, the Church of 1.2 billion people erupted in joyous celebration the world over. This is not the joy of opinionated people celebrating the career advancement of another opinionated person. This is not partisans celebrating the triumph of their particular candidate to office. The joy of the Roman Catholic Church is the joy children have for a father, the joy that the beloved have for their lover, joy of love and not of success.
The Pope is more than a pundit or a policy maker. Before we consider anything the Pope does, we must consider who he is: He is a pastor, a shepherd with a flock, a father with 1.2 billion children. Presidents exist because we the people decided a president ought to exist. Pundits exist because we the people choose to tune in and log on to see what they have to say. Pundits and policymakers exist to serve a purpose; they are jobs to be done. The Pope is not so. Shepherds don't exist because the flock got together and decided they ought to exist. Fathers don't exist because the children decide to listen to what they say. More important than what the Pope says or does is who the Pope is.
To Catholics throughout time and space, the Pope is. He is vicar of Christ, carrying with him the authority that Jesus Christ gave to Peter two millenia ago. We do not shout and whoop and holler because our preferred Cardinal got a job, because they papacy is more than a job. Ask your father if being a father is a job. He may say it requires a lot of work, but being a father is no 9 to 5 matter. There is no off time to being a father, because a father is not what you do, its who you are. So it is with the Pope, not a job, not a civil servant, but our Holy Father, Vicar of Christ and Prince of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. We, the Holy Roman Catholic Church are celebrating because, in the face of Pope Francis, we see more than what the Pope does, we see who the Pope is: the loving action of God, working through a man once known as Bergoglio, blessing his children here on earth. We, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, are joyful to know that God loves us so much that he uses something so simple as a man to be Father to us all through time and space. And we, the Holy Roman Catholic Church are so very exuberant to have a Holy Father, Pope Francis. Viva Il Papa!