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Buona Fortuna, Pope Francis I

13 March 2013 @ 19:56

Now let’s see what the leftwingwackos think of him.

If they hate him, we got another good Pope 🙂

—Commentator BeeKaaay over at Twitchy [tip of the fedora to Michelle Malkin].

Indeed.  This will be a good general indicator of whether this choice is good one for The West.

I will reserve judgement until I do more research on the man, but here’s some background and some commentary I’ve collected in my travels through The Ether these past few hours…

-From the Catholic News Service, Francis X. Rocca reporting, we learn [tip of the fedora to Lisa Graas]:

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, the leader of a large urban archdiocese in Latin America, was elected the   266th pope and took the name Francis.

He is the first pope in history to come from the Western Hemisphere and  the first non-European to be elected in almost 1,300 years. The Jesuit was also the first member of his order to be elected pope, and the first member of any religious order to be elected in nearly two centuries.

The election March 13 came on the second day of the conclave, on the conclave’s fifth ballot. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion to a conclave that began with many plausible candidates and no clear favorite.

Since 1998, he has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people.

He rides the bus, visits the poor, lives in a simple apartment and cooks his own meals. To many in Buenos Aires, he is known simply as “Father Jorge.”

He also has created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives and started new pastoral programs, such as a commission for divorcees. He co-presided over the 2001 Synod of Bishops and was elected to the synod council, so he is well-known to the world’s bishops.

The pope has also written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.

In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Pope Francis encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could “seriously injure the family.”

He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in “depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.”

In 2006, he criticized an Argentine proposal to legalize abortion under certain circumstances as part of a wide-ranging legal reform. He accused the government of lacking respect for the values held by the majority of Argentines and of trying to convince the Catholic Church “to waver in our defense of the dignity of the person.”

His role often forced him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for.

Some controversy had arisen over the position taken by Pope Francis during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship, which cracked down brutally on political opponents. Estimates of the number of people killed and forcibly disappeared during those years range from about 13,000 to more than 30,000.

Citing a case in which two young priests were detained by the military regime, critics say that the cardinal, who was Jesuit provincial at the time, did not do enough to support church workers against the military dictatorship.

Others, however, have said that he attempted to negotiate behind the scenes for the priests’ release, and a spokesman for the cardinal, quoted in the daily newspaper La Nacion, called the accusation “old slander.”

-From a profile by John Allen on 03 March [tip of the fedora to Jonah Goldberg]:

After the dust settled from the election of Benedict XVI, various reports identified the Argentine Jesuit as the main challenger to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. One cardinal later said the conclave had been “something of a horse race” between Ratzinger and Bergoglio, and an anonymous conclave diary splashed across the Italian media in September 2005 claimed that Bergoglio received 40 votes on the third ballot, just before Ratzinger crossed the two-thirds threshold and became pope.

Though it’s hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the “runner-up” last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church’s commitment to the developing world.

Another measure of Bergoglio’s seriousness as a candidate was the negative campaigning that swirled around him eight years ago.

Three days before the 2005 conclave, a human rights lawyer in Argentina filed a complaint charging Bergoglio with complicity in the 1976 kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests under the country’s military regime, a charge Bergoglio flatly denied. There was also an e-mail campaign, claiming to originate with fellow Jesuits who knew Bergoglio when he was the provincial of the order in Argentina, asserting that “he never smiled.” [BOB: Well, I wouldn’t smile much if I had to deal with the Goddamn Jesuits]

Born in Buenos Aires in 1936, Bergoglio’s father was an Italian immigrant and railway worker from the region around Turin, and he has four brothers and sisters. His original plan was to be a chemist, but in 1958 he instead entered the Society of Jesus and began studies for the priesthood. He spent much of his early career teaching literature, psychology and philosophy, and early on he was seen as a rising star. From 1973 to 1979 he served as the Jesuit provincial in Argentina, then in 1980 became the rector of the seminary from which he had graduated.

These were the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into “base communities” and political activism.

Over the years, Bergoglio became close to the Comunione e Liberazione movement founded by Italian Fr. Luigi Giussani, sometimes speaking at its massive annual gathering in Rimini, Italy. He’s also presented Giussani’s books at literary fairs in Argentina. This occasionally generated consternation within the Jesuits, since the ciellini once upon a time were seen as the main opposition to Bergoglio’s fellow Jesuit in Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

On the other hand, that’s also part of Bergoglio’s appeal, someone who personally straddles the divide between the Jesuits and the ciellini, and more broadly, between liberals and conservatives in the church.

Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor.

“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least,” Bergoglio said during a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

At the same time, he has generally tended to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.

Bergoglio is seen an unwaveringly orthodox on matters of sexual morality, staunchly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. In 2010 he asserted that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children, earning a public rebuke from Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.  [BOB: A definite mark in his favor, I’d say]

Nevertheless, he has shown deep compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS; in 2001, he visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

Bergoglio also won high marks for his compassionate response to the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires of a seven-story building housing the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association and the Delegation of the Argentine Jewish Association. It was one of the worst anti-Jewish attacks ever in Latin America, and in 2005 Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, praised Bergoglio’s leadership.

“He was very concerned with what happened, Ehrenkranz said. “He’s got experience.”

Bergoglio may be basically conservative on many issues, but he’s no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities. In September 2012, he delivered a blistering attack on priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.”

-From Andrew Stuttaford [worth quoting in full]:

Here’s what may turn out to be a somewhat controversial sentence (at least in the U.K. and the Falklands) reportedly contained in an address by the new pope during a commemoration last year of the 30th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands, with translation via Harry’s Place (emphasis mine):

We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the Homeland who went out to defend their mother, the Homeland, and to reclaim what is theirs, that is of the Homeland, and it was usurped . . .

Hmmm . . .

-From R.R. Reno over at First Things:

…Francis is a conservative Jesuit, but in some ways a revolutionary, as almost all modern Jesuits are. He’s like Benedict in the sense of not having any restorationist impulses. He recognizes that the idea of princes of the Church is an anachronism. At the same time he’s against the emerging secular consensus in the West, which includes South America. He has engaged in conflicts with Cristina Kirchner in Argentina over gay marriage and gay adoption. She punches below the belt. He knows what the Church is up against.

I  worked with Jesuits  for twenty years. They break the rules. So far Pope Francis is true to form. He took an unprecedented name, which is the name of the most severe critic of the papacy before Martin Luther. He bowed to receive the crowd’s blessing.

The Spiritual Exercises serve as the central and powerful basis for Jesuit formation. This mode of interior union with God’s will can have a tremendous effect, which is why Jesuits really, really believe in what they’re doing. That makes them powerful forces in the Church, for good and for ill. The Church is an incredibly immobile institution, but this fellow may effect some changes.

This remark from Michael Potemra gives one hope:

People who worry that, as a Jesuit, he might be too liberal, should relax: A very conservative Jesuit priest of my acquaintance, who is unhappy with the liberal direction of his order, has been telling me for weeks that he supports Bergoglio for pope. Bergoglio is a solid conservative on the hot-button social issues that agitate American laity, but that would have been true of just about any of the cardinals who might have been elected today. The story here is that he is an outsider who is the consensus choice to fix what’s wrong with the church administration, but all in a Franciscan spirit of love and humility, to wipe the face of the church so that its inner beauty can radiate. St. Francis was called to “rebuild the church” — Pope Francis will act in that spirit.

-Please do check out this fine aggregation by Anna Williams over at First Things.

-Tweets from Ladd Ehlinger:

The anagram of ‘Francis’ is certainly not ‘Peter‘.

-A Tweet from Pete, DaTechGuy:

-A Tweet from Richard McEnroe:

-An announcement from Dr. Boli:


To all cardinals: Owing to the successful election, the trust-building exercise previously scheduled for tonight at 10:30 has been canceled. Please return all melodicas, blasting caps, raspberry pies, and climbing tackle to the Athletic Department at your earliest convenience.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013,  4:49 PM

-A Tweet from Smitty:

Indeed, it is.  And this is the key fact to remember when researching this man.

Is he the right man to defend The Church and The West against those super forces that seek to destroy both.

  1. 13 March 2013 @ 20:04 20:04

    Well, the lefty nuns at Caldwell College (local to me) are giddy. A super-liberal Jesuit priest I know is likewise giddy. To quote Han Solo, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

    • 13 March 2013 @ 22:25 22:25

      I don’t know what to think. I had started to write a post over the weekend on what I see as the biggest threats to The Church and I was thinking of rewriting it in light of the election, but I may just keep to the original plan.

  2. 13 March 2013 @ 21:10 21:10

    “outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages”! The left will hate him.

  3. M. Thompson permalink
    13 March 2013 @ 23:20 23:20

    Best wishes to the Catholic Church from this Wesleyan.

  4. bunni1 permalink
    14 March 2013 @ 00:05 00:05

    Thanks for this fine post, Bob. I wanted to know more about the new Pope.
    He looks very kindly, and We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  5. 14 March 2013 @ 01:15 01:15

    LOL…I agree, the lefts and the Catholic Church are going to be on the edge of their seats for quite a spell with this Pope.

    That election was rather quick. Wow…only 2 days of conclave. When I first saw the white smoke, I couldn’t help but think that one of those old stogies fell asleep and dropped his lit cigar in a trash can or something.

    Oh…By the way, does anyone know weather Donald Trump is Catholic or not? If so, I’m willing to bet a million bucks he’s probably clamoring (as we speak) for Bergoglio’s birth certificate and college transcripts. >: – 0 )

  6. 15 March 2013 @ 17:41 17:41

    I’ve watched with a bit of bemusement as the RCC has been pretty much irrelevant to Christianity for over 500 years. It commands a good bit of attention because of its Roman antecedents (The Pope’s title of Pontifex Maximus is actually a Roman Imperial title usurped by a Bishop of Rome about 1.5 millennia ago and it has a pagan meaning), but to assert it is the blast shield of Christianity is more than a bit overblown. In a number of regions in Latin America, the RCC has persecuted evangelicals to the point of killing a number of them over the years and has allowed outright heresy to infiltrate the membership over the years, including syncretizing with demonic religions.

    Still, it’s a joy to see the moonbats tie themselves in knots. But, I strongly suspect that the election of a Jesuit is not going to be a healthy development and will accelerate the fall of the RCC which has been going for more than 500 years.

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