Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2013_03_14_TEO_Francisco, de Asís y Javier

Francisco Varo, Professor of the School de Teología y University Chaplain

Francis of Assisi and Xavier

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 17:22:00 +0000 Published in Expansion

We have a Pope! After a sympathy as close as that of John Paul II and an intellectual acuity as sharp as that of Benedict XVI, a new genius of the Holy Spirit has given us Francis I. Even in the choice of his name, he has surprised us.

St. Francis is a popular saint. The poor man of Assisi suggests love, fresh air, simplicity and humility. Francis is the saint who is a friend of the poor, generous, who gives everything without holding anything back, a lover of nature, of brother sun and sister moon, of brother wolf, a clean image of the Gospel ideal. The humanity of our time, so stained by human ambitions, so often insensitive to the needs of every human being, needed a new Francis of Assisi.

But in the heart of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit pope, the name Francis is also undoubtedly linked to Francis Xavier, that intrepid Navarrese who undertook the adventure of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. A man of faith who did not understand that there were those who spent their time in Byzantine discussions in the classrooms of the theological academies of Paris, while hands were lacking to administer baptism to the simple people of India and the Far East, who were joyfully welcoming the preaching of the Gospel.

Francis I is the pope of the Catholic Church, i.e. universal, open to all. With his simplicity, Francis of Assisi won the confidence of the Sultan and his friars were good friends of the Muslims of the Turkish Empire, where they have guarded the Holy Places to this day. Francis of Xavier sowed a seed of peace and solidarity in lands of religious and cultural traditions very different from those of the West, the fruits of which are still visible today.

In some way, the name Francis suggests ways to face the great challenges facing the Church today: the challenge of reform and conversion, in order to be always fully evangelical, and the challenge of dialogue with the cultures and religions of the world. Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier faced it successfully because their first priority was holiness: trusting in prayer and in the action of God's grace. In the first dialogue of Pope Francis I with the Christian people, gathered yesterday at the place of St. Peter's, prayer was also the first priority: prayer for the Pope Emeritus, blessing for the people, but also, that touching scene, in which the Pope asked with Franciscan simplicity the alms of prayer for him and bent down to receive it.

The witness of unity offered by the Catholic Church in times when sincere compromises are difficult between different ways of thinking, whether in the field of politics, labor relations, or culture, forces us to reflect. His election, by more than two thirds of the cardinal electors in only five ballots, makes clear the broad consensus and trust that his profile generates among the men who know best the status of the Church and the world in the five continents. The joyful reception of the Roman people as he approached St. Peter's place to impart his first apostolic blessing ratifies this plebiscite of Christianity. The new Pope will not lack the attendance of the Holy Spirit, the protection of the Virgin Mary, and the support of the prayers and affection of the Christian people.