We’re approaching the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joined host Warren Pierce on The Warren Pierce Show on WJR Radio in Detroit Sunday Morning to discuss the style, substance, and impact of Pope Francis on the Vatican as he continues to lead the church. You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.
Carl E. Olson, in an editorial entitled “Catholicism and the Convenience of Empty Labels,” says that many who write and discuss all things Catholic get lost in “fabricated conflicts” which lack context. Pope Francis, depending on who is speaking, is a darling of the “liberals” or a stalwart “conservative.”
Suffice to say, the die has been cast for many journalists, and thus for their readers, when it comes to framing stories about the good Pope Francis and the evil “right-wingers” who oppose him. It’s not that some writers go to elaborate and sophisticated lengths to make dubious connections and render outrageous assertions; rather, they often demonstrate an intellectual laziness that is alarming and a crude simplicity that is exasperating, at best.
Metropolitan Siluan (Muci) of Buenos Aires, an Orthodox Christian hierarch, was the representative of the Patriarchate of Antioch at the inaugural mass for Pope Francis this week. Notes on Arab Orthodoxy has a personal reflection on the new pope from Met. Siluan (and links to the Spanish-language originals). The Orthodox bishop offers insights about the qualities of this “very easygoing” new pope from informal meetings and dinners he took part in. Met. Siluan:
At the table where the cardinals from Cuba, Ecuador, Santo Domingo, etc. were gathered, I wanted to know the opinions that they had of the pope. So each one of them agreed to answer the question: What are the qualities of Pope Francis?
I will share below some of the answers that I received. Some of it I already shared with [Argentine news station] C5N, who asked me to share some of what I experienced here.
One emphasized the fact that the pope is an organizer, who knows where and how to get something done, a man of great simplicity and mercy.
Another emphasized that the pope is a man who understands his surroundings well, who is generous, a man of words who knows how to speak without offending.
A third said that he is a humble man, who is transparent, honest, who knows things in Latin America who will know how to tell those who correspond from each of those countries what he will have to do. (more…)
The Blaze TV will be featuring the Rev. Robert Sirico and Rabbi Daniel Lapin on Wednesday, March 20. The hour-long program will focus on the election of Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
Pope Francis has already made several statements regarding the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people, and the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, plans to attend the papal inauguration. Carol Glatz, of The CatholicHerald UK, writes:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Pope Francis’s election “a significant moment in the history of the Church” that will foster positive relations in the wake of “the transformational papacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI – pontiffs who launched historic reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people,” he said.
“There is much in his record that reassures us about the future,” Mr Foxman said, including “the new Pope’s sensitivity to the Jews”.
Visit The Blaze TV to learn more about program viewing opportunities.
Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico has been in Rome all week for the Papal Conclave, and joined host Hugh Hewitt on The Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday afternoon to discuss the new pontificate of Pope Francis. What kind of a man is Pope Francis? What will his priorities be for his pontificate? What is his view on markets? All these questions and more are explored in the conversation.
Listen to the full interview here:
Surprise was the reaction in Rome on hearing of the elevation of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to the Papacy. My colleagues in Rome told me that the Plaza was unusually quiet as the people tried to figure out what was going on. I guess the Cardinals showed that they elect the pope on their own terms, and now everyone is wondering who Pope Francis is, how he will lead, and what will characterize his pontificate.
Intra and Extra: Challenges for the Pope in the Church and the World
The Pope’s main role is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In his first homily as Holy Father he asserted just this. “We can walk as much as we want,” he said “we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.” He also has a Church to govern—and he’ll face serious challenges on both fronts. On the inside, the Church continues to reel from scandals and abuse. The curia needs to be reformed and the bureaucracy cleaned up. On the outside, Pope Francis faces a growing and hostile secularism, religious persecution from a number of fronts, dwindling number of believers in traditionally Catholic lands, including Latin America, and increasing ignorance of the basic tenets of Christianity. But there are also some real positives. The Church continues to grow in the Global South—especially in Africa and Asia. Belief is still high in Latin America, though many Catholics are leaving for the Pentecostals or evangelicals. Among U.S. Catholics, Hispanics are now the majority. And while the Church in the West may be getting smaller, it is also more vibrant and serious. Younger Catholics are orthodox and evangelical, and dissenters like Hans Kung are aging and less influential each day. Pope Francis also has the advantage of following Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose interpretation of Vatican II and whose intellectual and spiritual guidance set out a framework for the New Evangelization.
Francis brings several important things to his papacy. The most obvious are that he is a Latin American, and not a member of the Roman Curia. The Curia needs reform, and being an outsider with experience of diocesan dysfunction will serve him well. Further, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he not only dealt with extreme poverty, corruption, lack of rule of law, and social and economic volatility that is common in the developing world, he also has had to contend with virulent and aggressive secularism that is common in the West. He has been a fearless defender of human life and family, has called abortion the “death penalty for the unborn,” and has been unafraid to clash with political leaders over corruption, reminding them that social corruption is rooted in personal sin.
He also brings a long record of engagement with the poorest of the poor. (more…)
Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Instituto Acton in Rome, Italy, joined France 24 News today to discuss the pontificate of Pope Francis I as he assumes his new office of leadership.
Director of the Istituto Acton in Rome, Kishore Jayabalan, and Acton Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, were recently featured on Ave Maria’s Al Kresta in the Afternoon to discuss the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis.
Jayabalan was in St. Peter’s Square for the announcement and he says that the mood in Rome was quite different than it was in 2005. Despite the thousands of people in the square, it was very quiet; most people were very surprised by the selection. Kresta points out that Bergoglio “understands the importance of identifying with the people” and Jayabalan believes that the new pope will get “back to the basics of Christianity” and “recover the true spirit of Christianity.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Gregg was also in the middle of the action in Rome. He describes Bergoglio as “simple,” “very spiritual,” and a “solid theologian.”
Listen to his comments here:
Please note that the clip does not end prematurely; Gregg did not return to the show after the break.
Yesterday, Cardinals choose Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to be the new pope. A The Detroit News editorial points out that “[t]hirty-nine percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America, making this pope a fitting choice for many Catholics.”
Countries with the largest number of Catholics include Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and U.S. One hundred years ago, that landscape was shifted toward Europe, with France and Italy housing the greatest number.
The Detroit News asked Acton Research Fellow Michael Miller to comment on Bergoglio’s selection:
the choice of Bergoglio came as a surprise to many. But [Miller is] confident the new pope will offer continuity by preserving the strong intellectual tradition carried by Benedict XVI and John Paul II while upholding personal holiness.
Plus, Miller believes Bergoglio’s choice of the name Francis is symbolic of the kind of leader he’ll be. The name could refer to several Catholic saints, including Francis Xavier and Francis of Assisi. Between these saints, they advocated church reform, deep concern for the poor and evangelization. Bergoglio’s own background revolves around social justice and working with the marginalized.
The church needs a leader who can wear many hats, from bringing people to the faith to cleaning up problems both inside and outside the Vatican. Bergoglio has accepted the role with humility and seems ready to begin.
New Delhi TV recently published a Agence Franch-Presse report describing the former pope’s “invisible presence at conclave:”
Retired pope Benedict XVI is gone but far from forgotten as cardinals begin voting for candidates to replace him, with his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein one of the last to leave the Sistine Chapel before the start of the conclave.
Rev. Robert Sirico addresses Benedict’s influence on the conclave:
Benedict has “been very careful not to insert himself into the proceedings” for his succession.
He pointed to Benedict’s “removal of himself to Castel Gandolfo, and the fact that he made no comments or expressed any preferences on a number of the things leading up to his resignation.”
The “pope emeritus,” who turns 86 next month, has begun his retirement at the papal summer residence outside Rome with promises of being “hidden from the world” and living as a “simple pilgrim.”
“Obviously there are consequences to his decision and obviously not all good,” Sirico acknowledged, adding: “It has to weigh on his mind (that the cardinal electors) are in this position because of his decision.”
One obvious consequence is that “future popes could more easily resign,” he noted. (more…)