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Ramiro Pellitero, Professor of the School of Theology

Renewing sap

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:40:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper


In 1209 Pope Innocent III had a dream: the Lateran Basilica was leaning, almost collapsing. A religious man was holding it up. Francis of Assisi had presented his rule to him and the pope had been surprised by its rigor. The pope said to him: "Pray to God to manifest his will to us. When we know it, we will be able to answer you with certainty". The pope interpreted, by this dream, that he should approve the rule. Francis sustains the Church. This was beautifully painted by Giotto in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1290-1300).

The hitherto Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected pope, taking the name Francis (I). It does not seem risky to see here an orientation towards charity and love for the most needy that characterized the "poverello".

The cardinals wanted to elect the first non-European pope in more than 1000 years. And for this reason he jokingly pointed out: it seems that the cardinals have gone to look for the new bishop of Rome "almost at the end of the world", in reference letter to his home country, Argentina. Perhaps because the Church knows and feels called to go far away to regain strength and be able to carry Christ's advertisement further.

He immediately expressed his awareness of being the Bishop of Rome who invites us to begin a new journey: "Bishop and people. This path of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches. A path of fraternity, of love, of trust among us". This is so, because the Vicar of Christ is the common Father of this family of God in the world, the seed of universal fraternity.

He then went on to order: "Let us always pray for each other: let us pray for the whole world, so that there may be a great fraternity". And he added: "I hope that this journey will be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city".

Before giving the blessing to those present and to all people of good will, he asked for a prayer for himself - "the prayer of the people, asking the blessing for their bishop - bowing and leaving a few minutes of silence, while the cameras captured the faces of the concentrated crowd, effectively in prayer.

The motto of his cardinal's coat of arms is "miserando atque eligendo". St. Bede the Venerable, the great historian of the early Anglo-Saxons (7th-8th century), linked the election of St. Matthew to the mercy of God. Along with election is imitation in action.

The fact that he is a Latin American pope points to the renewing sap that this continent represents for the Church, always alive, as Benedict XVI used to say. By the way, among his first words, Francis I has placed himself in continuity with the now Pope Emeritus of Rome: "Let us all pray together for him, so that the Lord may bless him and the Virgin may protect him".

It is a special joy for us that the new pope's native language is Spanish. Life, family and communication are outstanding values in Latin American culture, so closely linked to our own. The new pope, a chemical technician, studied theology in Germany and has published several books on religious life, Education, love of country and other moral themes.

Charity and mercy, confirmation in faith and unity, prayer and new evangelization, young lifeblood for the Church, continuity and renewal. These are the first chords of this new pontificate.