Michael Severance, operations manager of the Istituto Acton in Rome, recently wrote an article for the World Catholic Report explaining why Pope Francis was a historic choice and examining what we can expect from his papacy.
He points out that “this past week proved a historic week of firsts:”
We now have the first Jesuit pope. And the first pope named Francis. He is the first non-European pope since Gregory III, an eighth-century Syrian. And we now have the very first pope from the Americas.
We have also witnessed a pope who is shunning what some critics perceive as Vatican tinsel and niceties during these economic hard times.
Francis has refused to ride in the pope’s private car (preferring the shuttle bus) or to wear red shoes and a fur-lined cape, or mozzetta, opting for ordinary black shoes and a white cassock.
This is the first time in a very long while that we have listened to a pope who readily quips in public and frequently includes off-script interjections to prepared remarks—at his first Mass with his brother cardinals, then a second time during his first press conference with journalists on Saturday, then a third time during his Sunday sermon at the Vatican parish of St. Anne, and again only a few hours later at his noontime Angelus, when he preached from his apartment above St. Peter’s Square. Not even John Paul II was at such ease with humor and his own words so early on in his pontificate.
Since Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was somewhat unknown before he was elected Pope, Severance has compiled a brief profile of Pope Francis, focusing the pope as a pastor, thinker, and advocate for the poor. (more…)