Pope Greets the Faithful As Holy Week Begin with Palm Sunday Mass

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 250,000 of the faithful gathered waving olive branches and braided palm fronds in St. Peter’s Square to hear and get a glimpse of Pope Francis celebrating his First Palm Sunday Mass addressing the crowd reminding them to be humble and young at heart promising to attend the youth jamboree in Brazil in July. The crowd included a variety of people from tourists to Romans to pilgrims who celebrated the beginning of the Holy Week leading to Easter, Christianity’s most important day. The pope keeping with his unique style broke away from the homily text prepared for him to encourage the faithful to lead simple lives, resist temptation and overall remain optimistic in the face of adversity according to the Associate Press. Francis told the crowd that “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope!” as the world deals with a crushing economic difficulties and employment crisis. At the end of the two hour Mass, Francis removed his red vestments and wore only his white cassock with skull cap when he climbed into the open top popemobile to meet the crowd. His security team has to work harder than ever as Francis leaned out to shake hands, kiss and pat the heads of infants his body guards passed to him. The Chief bodyguard, Domenico Giani, at one point was sent to give a message to the mother of a child the pontiff passed as the he appeared very tense then broke into a smile one he completed his task the Associated Press reported. The pope also climbed down from his vehicle to kiss a woman in the crowd and chat with her, while another man in the crowd leaned over the barricade to squeeze the pontiff on the shoulder which was unheard of with the reserved Benedict XVI. As an Argentine nun, Sister Emma, commented, “There is no doubt that there will be a new spring for the church, a renewal.”

Palm Sunday marks the day Jesus’ entered Jerusalem then later was betrayed by one of his apostles and sentenced to die on the cross. Francis presided over the Mass that took place on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica under a white canopy saying Jesus “awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don’t matter in the eyes of the world.” As many of the cardinals sat on chairs during the ceremony, the pope talked about many of the evils afflicting the world including wars, `’economic conflicts that hit the weakest” as well as corruption. Since his election, Pope Francis has made it his mission to help the downtrodden and poor which keeps with the Jesuit tradition as the pope said in his homily that Christian joy `’isn’t born from possessing a lot of things but from having met” Jesus as that same joy should keep people young and “Even at 70, 80, the heart doesn’t age” if one is inspired by Christian joy the Associate Press reports. During the Mass, many of the faithful knelt on the hard cobblestones of the square when the Gospel recounts the moment of Jesus’ death so did Francis kneel on a wooden kneeler. A few olive trees were inserted in the dirt placed around the central obelisk in the square. Holy Week has just begun but there is already a planned change to the tradition with the new papacy. On Holy Thursday, the pope will wash the feet of young inmates at a juvenile detention center in Rome instead of the feet of priests in the basilica as a humble gesture of humility. Other appointments in public will include the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday night and next Sunday Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in the square.

A First in 600 years: Two Living Popes Meet for Lunch at Castel Gandolfo

Popes

Well the time has come for the two to meet which marks a historic milestone that has not happened in 600 years and could be seen by some to be a problematic melding of two papacies. The historic meeting took place at Castel Gandolfo Saturday when Pope Francis traveled from the Vatican to south Rome to have lunch with Benedict XVI, his predecessor. The two men in white embraced with the pope telling a retiring one “We are brothers” and insist they pray side by side for the future of the Catholic Church reports the Associated Press. The year for the Catholic Church has stated with a bang with Benedict’s resignation and the election of the first Latin American pope leading to the meeting on Saturday with the image of the papal past embracing the papal future, praying and breaking bread together. Benedict, 85, has been living in the papal retreat since Feb. 28 when he became the first to resign in 600 years, while Francis, 76, made it clear he would not let Benedict hide from the world as he wanted and made it clear he would visit him. Benedict greeted Francis, wearing a white quilted jacket over his white cassock, on the helipad of the Castel Gandolfo gardens where they embraced and clasped hands making it clear that Francis is the new pope and Francis made it clear Benedict is a brother and equal. After leaving the helipad, Benedict gave Francis the right side of the car symbolizing the traditional place of the pope and Benedict sat on the left on their way to the palazzo to pray where Benedict insisted that Francis use the papal kneeler, but Francis refused saying “We are brothers” then they kneeled side by side. Francis also brought an icon of the Madonna for Benedict saying, “They told me it’s the Madonna of Humility. Let me say one thing: When they told me that, I immediately thought of you, at the many marvelous examples of humility and gentleness that you gave us during your pontificate.” With a simple reply from Benedict of  “Grazie, grazie.” Well wishers outside the main piazza chanted “Francesco! Francesco!” outside the villa but the crowd left after Francis’ helicopter left 2.5 hours later, according to the Associated Press, without either pope appearing at the balcony.

The Vatican respected the wished of Benedict to stay out of the spotlight so no to interfere with his successor’s papacy with no live Vatican television coverage and only a short video and still photo released after the meeting, while no details were given about what the two discussed many are speculating. Some speculations about what the men discussed include the rise of secularism in the world, the decrease in priesthood in Europe and the competition the Catholic Church faces in Latin America and Africa from evangelical Pentecostal movements. Benedict may have discussed pressing issues the new pope will have to deal with including unfinished business from the Benedict’s papacy such as the Vatileak documents last year that exposed corruption and mismanagement in Vatican administration and ideas on how to make management changes in the Holy See administration. Further questions have to be asked about the future of the Catholic Church and how they will deal with two living popes as one has resigned and the other reigning side by side. As the Vatican’s leading canon lawyer, Jesuit Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, explained in an article it would be inappropriate to call Benedict “emeritus pope” as he lost all of his power of primacy when he renounced the papacy, therefore the Vatican has originally said he would be known as “emeritus bishop of Rome” but Benedict chose to keep wearing the white cassock of the papacy and being called “emeritus pope.” The main question now for the Vatican is will Benedict influence the future pontiff and whether Catholics will favor the traditional style undermining his successor’s authority and agenda through allegiance to the old pope. This should not be a concern since in his last meeting with cardinals on Feb.28, Benedict pledge his obedience to the then unknown future pope. In their meeting on Saturday, neither address each other in formal titles but as friends.

The two are men are very different in their approach and style to the papacy. The Argentine born Francis has already made waves with his no papal regalia, simple black shoes, and paying his own hotel bill sending a message to the people that the pope’s job is to protect the poor. As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the man now known as pope would celebrate Mass with prostitutes and drug addicts as his plan for Holy Thursday Mass this week will be to celebrate at a juvenile detention center washing the feet of 12 inmates echoing the humility of Jesus. The German born Benedict comes from the academic world as one of the leading theologian who spent more than 30 years in the Vatican where he was first the chief doctrinal watchdog and then pope. His main concern during his papacy was to remind people of their faith and bring back the traditions of the Catholic Church as well as the brocaded style of the papacy. his Holy Thursday included the foot washing of clerics at the St. John Lateran Basilica. It was best said by Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit magazine, whose article are Vatican approved said that, “They are two figures of the highest spirituality, whose relationship with life is completely anchored in God. This radicalness is shown in Pope Benedict’s shy and kind bearing, and in Pope Francis it is revealed by his immediate sweetness and spontaneity.”

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.