A New Era in the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis Civil Unions

With the approach of holy week and the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis fast approaching, let’s watch the highlight and low-light reels for this week as big decision are coming for the Catholic church.

Pope Francis and GLAAD: Oh you knew it was coming. The surprising fact many may not be aware of is the fact the pope at one point supported civil unions for gay couples. The focus though for the LGBT communities had been his public stance on gay marriage, mainly that it’s a “destructive attack on God’s plan”, and his opposition to gay adoption that it discriminates against children. However according to Huff Post as recently as 2010 then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio suggested the church support civil unions as a compromise of sorts as at the time they were legal in parts before the gay marriage bill was passed in his home of Argentina. Although the bishops rejected his suggestion, Argentina passed the law making it the first South American country to do so. While some are optimistic about the new pope, some who knew him before are less. As Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transexuals, told the Times, “The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public…He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative.” GLAAD President Herndon Gradick shared the same sentiment in a statement to Huff Post, explaining, “For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.” Oh by the way GLAAD the Pope does not only answer to God he has to answer to his congregation and the Curia so anyone in his position has an uphill battle ahead…give him some time cut the man some slack he has been pope for 2 minutes.

Pope Francis and Mislead Flock: As we all know or have seen, the pope traditionally holds Mass of the Lord’s Supper in St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Latern reports Catholic News Service. This year, Pope Francis decided to do things his way and break with tradition by celebrating Holy Thursday of next week washing and kissing the feet of juvenile prisoners in Rome’s Casal del Marmo. The service typically includes washing and kissing the feet of 12 people commemorating Jesus’ humility towards his twelve apostles. The service is not atypical for the pope as in his former life as Argentine’s Cardinal Bergoglio he often held Holy Thursday ceremony in jails, hospitals or other locations associated with the poor and infirm according to Huff Post. According to Agence France-Presse, Pope Francis wants to narrow the gap between the laypeople and the Church.

Pope Francis and The Incredibly Shrinking Priesthood: As the congregation around the world becomes bigger even in the U.S., the problem of no one to lead these congregation has become increasingly apparent. In order to deal with the priest shortage, the Catholic Church has decided to look to former Anglican leaders to fill the void reports Huff Post. The number of men entering the priesthood in the U.S. has dropped about 20,000 since 1975 while the number of the faithful has increased by 17 million according to CBS. Allowing Anglican priests to convert was a way to solve the problem as seen by former Pope Benedict XVI who issued an edict in 2009 to create “a new structure to welcome some disenchanted Anglicans into the Roman Catholic fold,” Time notes. At a Vatican news conference last October, Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect for the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, according to the New York Times, commented that Anglicans who wish to convert would now be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.” The New York Times of course in an article about married Catholic priests raised some interesting questions as married priest were banned in 1123 by the First Lateran Council however married converts have been allowed since 1980:

First, are they doing as good a job as other priests? If the church has decided that celibacy confers certain gifts on priests, does it follow that married priests are worse at serving their congregations? Second, wouldn’t celibate priests be a little resentful of colleagues who get to serve the church and have sex too? And third, if the married priests are doing a good job and not provoking envy, why keep the celibacy rule for priests in general?

Still the transition has been smooth for many of the priest and even entire congregations to convert to Catholicism. Lewis, a converted Catholic priest who leads St. luke’s now Cathloci pareish in Bladensburg, MD., told PBS: “We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church … The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.”

Pope Francis Gives His First Sunday Blessing to a Crowd of 150,000

 

 

Pope Francis In St. Peter’s Square Offers Angelus Prayer To 150,000.

Pope Francis gave his first window appearance of his papacy with a spontaneous speech about the power of God’s forgiveness opting out of the traditional written speech on Sunday. As the Associated Press reports, he spoke in Italian beginning with “buon giorno” (Good day) and ending with “buon pranzo” (Have a good lunch) instead of greeting the crowd in several languages as his predecessors have done before. The crowd of more than a 150,000 cheered and laughed as the pope addressed St. Peter’s Square with humor and commentary. Francis did tweet the faithful in several languages saying: “Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. ” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi added that Francis will more than likely stick with Italian a language he is comfortable with and possible stick to his off the cuff style for now leaving the possibility open for other languages to be used in future public appearances.

The pope’s spontaneous off the cuff style has become a hallmark of his papacy in just the five days since the election. Earlier on Sunday, he appeared before the public from the side gate of the Vatican before delivering a six minute homily at the Vatican’s tiny parish church. Before entering St. Anna’s church to celebrate Mass, he shook hands with parishioners and kissed babies. After Mass, Francis put his security to the test when he ventured out into the street just outside St. Anna’s Gate as the traffic light at the intersection turned greened grasping outstretched hands with the occasional person placing a hand on Pope Francis’ shoulder. A few minutes later when the light turned red, Francis dashed back upstairs for his window appearance from his papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace. The studio window was opened for the first time since Feb. 24 the day his predecessor gave his last window blessing. The crowd cheered as the window opened to reveal Pope Francis and quickly died down as he began to speak with many of the faithful tearing up and waving Argentine flags which is the homeland of the world’s first Latin American pope. Francis who was elected March 13 has been staying at the hotel on Vatican grounds until his papal apartment in the palace is ready. Giant screens were set up for the crowd so they could see Francis close up and dozens of medical teams were on stand by for any emergencies. After the Mass, the pope stepped out from St. Anna’s church and waved to the crowd kept behind barriers across the street and then greeted parishioners one by one even having one young man pat him on the back. In his homily, Francis explained the core message of God which is mercy as God has the capacity to pardon without question and noted that people are far harder on each other than God is on sinners.

 

 

Vatican Adjusts To New Pope With Humble Style

Vatican Adjusts To New Pope With Humble Style.

According to Reuters, the Vatican has already had several surprised from Pope Francis in his first 24 hours as pope being the first non-European in 1,300 years as well as breaking more rules than his predecessor did in eight years. With the idea of an unpredictable papacy, an age old institution that usually does everything by the book, Father Tom Rosica a Canadian priest who runs a Catholic television station has this to say: “We are going to have to get used to a new way of doing things.” There is indeed a feeling of change coming to the Vatican as Pope Francis demonstrated in his first words as pope. Instead of starting out with the traditional “Praised by Jesus Christ” or “Dear brothers and sisters”, he chose a rather ordinary start with “Buona Sera” in Italian to address the crowds in St. Peters Square. “I was stunned by what happened last night. I didn’t expect a pontificate to begin with ‘Buona Sera,'” Rosica said. Ont he morning after the election, the Varican tried to accomadate the needs of the new style papacy as Father Fedrico Lombardi, chief Vatican spokesman, explains to reporters about what to expect: “We have to have patience, we are starting something new. There are a lot of things we don’t know yet.” Before stepping out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Bascilica, Franscis decided instead of sitting in a throne like chair in the Sistine Chapel for the obedience pledge that he would come down to the cardinals and stand as they greeted him. He then an hour later decided not to take the limo waiting to take him to the Vatican residence for a meal as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York explains, “And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off? It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver ‘That’s OK, I’ll just go with the boys.'” The only difference between him and the cardinals now is he no longer wears the red robe but white. On Thursday morning the unorthodox papal behavior continued when Francis insisted on paying the hotel bill at the Church-run residences where the cardinals stayed for the conclave. A Vatican spokeman explained in a news briefing that: “He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there. He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room … because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.” Jorge Bergoglio certainly brought his reputation for frugality from his native Argentina and is the first pope to take the name St. Francis of Assisi a man who preached the virtue of living in poverty as a gesture of solidarity with the poor. Lombardi said he expects the pope to visit Argentina eventually and will attend World Youth Day in Brazil in July, a Catholic festival that takes place every two years in a different city. And what of Vatican security and their duties to the unpredictable pope? Lomardi could only respond with: “That’s a good question. Vatican security are at the service of the pope and will have to adapt themselves to the pastoral style that the pope will use. A pope’s personal style has to be respected.”

Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, Elected Leader Of Catholic Church

Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, Elected Leader Of Catholic Church.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio a native of Buenos Aires, has taken the name of Pope Francis as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. On Wednesday, in his first public appearance after the papal election, on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica appeared the new pope Francisco in his white cassock to address the crowds more than an hour after the white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 2:05 EDT (7:05 p.m. CET). Speaking from the balcony, the pope gave his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the “City of the World”) to the crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square as the crowed cheered, cried, and waved for the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics. He prayed for the church, the papacy, and for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Before he prayed for the crowd and church, he asked that the crowd bless him. Francis, a Jesuit priest was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings and five ballots cast. Francis will be installed in the coming days, even though his papacy will be effectively immediately, but it’s not clear when the installation will happen as Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi announced on Wednesday that Tuesday March 19 the feast of St. Joseph would be a possible date. Lombardi said this before the white smoke later in the evening as he also said that the new pope will likely celebrate Mass with cardinals the morning after this election. The date of the installation will begin with a visit with cardinals to the grottos of St. Peter’s Basilica where the first pope St. Peter is said to be buried. There he will say,”I leave from where the apostle arrived” before proceeding to the square for the installation Mass where Francis will receive the Fisherman’s Ring made for his papacy as well as the pallium, a woolen stole to symbolize his authority. When Benedict was elected, 12 church representatives knelt in front of him at the installations including three cardinals, one bishop, a priest, deacon, married couple, a nun, and man from a religious order as well as two young people who had their conformation which will likely appear again at the papal installation of Francis as a symbolic pledge of obedience.  After the mass, the pope will be driven around St. Peter’s Square to greet the people from around the world and in the following days will visit the three main Roman basilicas aside from St. Peter’s: St Paul’s, St. John Lateran’s, St. Mary Major’s with the first visit St. Paul’s which is right outside the Vatican walls. The first few weeks, Francis will live in a temporary apartment away from the official papal residence while it is being renovated as the apartment was sealed after Benedict’s resignation and church rules say it cannot be reopens until a new pope is elected.

Statement by the President on His Holiness Pope Francis

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

 

White smoke: Catholic cardinals choose new pope

AFP 518134685

White Smoke At Sistine Chapel Indicates Pope Election.

On Wednesday afternoon, White smoke appeared from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:05 p.m. CET (2:05 p.m. EDT / 11:05 a.m. PDT) after five rounds of voting indicating that the pope elected has accepted the position. According to Catholic tradition, the newly appointed Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics in the worldwide church. In 2005, Benedict XVI was elected on the second day after four rounds of voting. The 115 catholic cardinals who voted in this papal election have elected the new pope with at least 77 votes.  After the smoke emerged from the chimney, the big bell of St. Peter’s Basilica could be heard faintly in the background as the crowd at St. Peter’s Square cheered at the moment the bells began to ring signaling the election of a new pope. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will appear in a matter of minutes to shout from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) proceeded by the presentation of the new pope in his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Benedict, who did not participate in the election due to health reasons, is the first pope to step down in 600 years, however he was able to in his eight years to solidify the church’s message on the core Catholic values such as opposition to gay marriage and abortion and saw gains in membership in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. On the other hand, his departure is at a time when the church has lost membership in Europe and the United States, is dealing with financial mismanagement of church assets and overcoming the tide of molestation accusations. Fortunately, the mood of the faithful in front of St.Peter’s Basilica was excitement and anticipation following the news. The first vote happened on Tuesday and two morning votes on Wednesday all had similar results with black smoke emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney that ended with no pope.

Black smoke signals no pope elected at first conclave vote

Black smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City indicating that no decision has been made after the first day of voting for the election of a new pope, March 12, 2013. REUTERS-Dylan Martinez

Black Smoke Appeared At Sistine Chapel Chimney

With a thick puff of black smoke from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, day one of the conclave on Tuesday ends with no conclusive first vote in the conclave to elect a new pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church really need a leader. The smoke came at 2:41 p.m. U.S. Eastern time leaving the church’s 115 cardinals to meet Wednesday morning to vote for the second day to elect a pope needing at least 77 votes to elect a new pope. There will be up to four votes per day until a pope is elected. If a new pope is elected, white smoke will be released from the Sistine Chapel at 5:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Italy), 7 a.m., 12:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. and if no pope is elected then black smoke will rise from the chapel at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Times may vary and times are estimated based on previous elections and predictions. The new pope must accept the position before the white smoke is released and as promised if the smoke is released at night then the Sistine Chapel chimney will be lit for onlookers to see the smoke as it was on Tuesday. Of course, as stipulated, if no pope is elected by Friday then the cardinals will pause Saturday for reflection and prayers thus continuing the voting pattern until 34th voting round which will lead to a runoff between top candidates. Once the white smoke is released, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will ring as in 2005 and the senior cardinal deacon, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, will stand on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica shouting “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) then present the new pope with his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Thousands watched in St. Peter’s Square as the black smoke poured out of the narrow flue in the rain following a day rich in ritual and pageantry.

After prayer for divine guidance, the cardinals took an oath in Latin to never divulge any details of their deliberation before they secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors. No conclave in modern times has elected a pope the first day and some cardinals believe it could take four or five days to pick a man to replace the recently retired Pope Benedict. The “Princes of the Church” will spend the night in a Vatican hotel then begin day two of voting in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday with two rounds of voting one in the morning and two in the afternoon. Voting will continue until a new pontiff is appointed and communication with the outside world will be smoke from the Chapel chimney indicated by black smoke when the voting sessions end with no result and white smoke when a pontiff is elected. Whom ever becomes the 266th pontiff of the Catholic church in its 2,000 year history will face several challenges including sex abuse scandals, infighting within the Vatican bureaucracy and the secularism in its European heartland and beyond. No clear cut contenders have emerged since some want a stronger manager to control the Curia and others calling for a powerful pastor to promote faith around the world. The doors of the Sistine Chapel were closed at 5:34 p.m. after the master of ceremonies, Guido Marini, said “Extra Omnes” or “Everyone Out” asking those no associate with the gathering to leave the room except Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech, an 87 year old who is too old to participate in the vote, who gave a sermon to remind the 115 cardinal electors of their responsibility.

The faithful gathered in Rome in hopes that a new leader would bring change after a difficult eight year reign by Pope Benedict. As Maria Dasdores Paz, a Brazilian nun who attended the Mass explains to Reuters that the new pope “must be a great pastor with a big heart, and also have the capacity to confront the Church’s problems, which are very great…Every day there seem to be more.” All of the prelates in the Sistine Chapel were appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II and the next pope will certainly defend the traditional moral teachings of the church, but many point out the failures of Benedict and Paul to reform the Curia leaving many feeling that the next pope must be a good chief executive or have good management put in place under him. Several papal candidate have been discussed including Italian and non-Italian prelates with growing pressure to choose a pontiff from somewhere else in the world since only 24 percent of Catholics live in Europe. Only time will tell if the next pope will live up to the position or falter in one respect or another as popes before him have.