Early today, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. Here are nine things you should know about Pope Francis.
1. Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. His father was an Italian immigrant.
2. He’s the first pope from South America. The only remaining continents that have never had a pope come from their lands are Australia, Antarctica, and North America.
3. He’s the first Jesuit pope.
4. He only has one lung. His other lung was removed due to infection when he was a teenager.
5. Bergoglio is known for his personal simplicity. In Argentina he lived in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, cooked his own meals, and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work. (more…)
Acton president and co-founder, Rev. Robert Sirico, and Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, are currently in Rome for the upcoming papal conclave. Here’s a roundup of their observations, including thoughts on the legacy of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
Rev. Sirico was recently on the Laura Ingraham show discussing Benedict XVI’s resignation and legacy with guest host, Raymond Arroyo. Rev. Sirico pointed out that in some ways this is an “era of firsts,” once a new pope is elected, there will be photographs of the pope and the pope emeritus together. Sirico and Arroyo talk about Benedict’s plans for retirement and that his legacy has been a noble one. Rev. Sirico argues that some of Benedict’s biggest contributions as “the pope of reason” are his encyclicals, his liturgical reform, and his refusal to compromise the truths of the faith. Finally, they note that Benedict fought to move the ongoing secularization “in the direction of the sunlight.”
Listen to their conversation below:
Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, was invited on Ave Maria’s Al Kresta in the Afternoon to talk about true reform in the Catholic church. They discuss Gregg’s recent article, “Catholicism, True Reform and the Next Pope,” the new era that the church is entering into, and the reforms that must occur. Gregg states that the church is always in need of reform, as humans are sinful and need to continually conform their lives to Christ. The church as a whole needs this reform in order to better equip it for it’s ultimate purpose: evangelizing.
Listen to the full interview:
Samuel Gregg also spoke to Dave Weekley from Metro News Hotline. They first discuss the search for a new pope. Gregg points out that there are about 115 cardinals who will be voting, several of these men are from Italy, but they are from all over the world with about 50 percent being European. Gregg also discusses his personal reaction to Benedict XVI’s resignation.
For all the latest news about Benedict’s resignation and the selection process for the new pope, visit Acton’s Resource Page.
In today’s The Detroit News, the Rev. Robert Sirico seeks to set aside some of the rumors, skewered Hollywood depictions, and media predictions that swirl around any papal conclave. Of course, this time is decidedly different, as the cardinals are coming together not after the death of a pope, but one’s retirement.
There is much talk throughout all the Church as to whom the next pope will be, and as Fr. Sirico points out, “[n]o one, not even the most well-informed Cardinal or Vatican journalist, has a clear answer to that question. Anyone telling you otherwise is dreaming.” Given the unusual circumstances of this conclave, Sirico believes this will not be a quick process.
…there is no obvious front-runner, no single cardinal that universally stands out as an obvious successor.
What does all this mean for the days ahead? Time. Time for the sifting process to allow the cardinals to get to know one another in this new light; time to get to the bottom of the problems related to the spirituality and governance of the Roman Curia (the bureaucracy that is supposed to help formulate, administer and communicate the decisions of the pope), which, even before the “Vatileaks” exposure, was well-known for its rivalries and cronyism; and time for the actual election process itself, due to procedural changes introduced since the last conclave, now requiring a two-thirds vote of the cardinals to elect a pope for up to 33 ballots.
There is one thing certain about picking a new pope: there is nothing certain about picking a pope. While there are predictions that the conclave could begin as soon as tomorrow, it likely will take longer for the cardinals to start the sealed process.
Sirico, who is traveling to Rome this week, said he expects the process to move swiftly.
“I will be surprised if we didn’t have a date for the conclave by the end of (today),” said Sirico. “My guess is that it will be a week later.”
Under the church’s constitution, the cardinals would have been required to set the conclave between March 15 and March 20, but in one of his last acts as pope, Benedict allowed the cardinals to change the date.
There is a general feeling among the cardinals to move the process along, but not all the cardinals have arrived at the Vatican yet. As with nearly everything at the Vatican, there is a strictly formal process: the dean of cardinals greets those present, there is time for prayer and meditation, and a pledge of secrecy regarding the proceedings. There is also a drawing to see which cardinals will act as assistants during the conclave. In addition, this is the first time many of the cardinals have met, or seen each other in a long time, and time is set aside for fraternizing.
“They will take a kind of reading of where the cardinals see the church and what are the needs of the church,” said Sirico.
The cardinals will meet twice today in morning and late afternoon sessions beginning around 3:30 a.m. Detroit time.
“They will probably have a date for the conclave late Monday,” said Sirico.
“If they don’t, then that tells you there are strong disagreements.”
While many are making predictions as to who the next pope will be, it is still a process that can be quite unpredictable. The election of a pope from Poland in the not-so-distant past is a good reminder of that.
The historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI continues to hold the world’s attention. The pope used yesterday’s Angelus address to say good-bye to throngs of well-wishers, while the Vatican announced today that the conclave to choose Benedict’s successor can begin as soon as March 15.
Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, says the work left behind for Benedict’s successor (and indeed for the whole Church) is “sobering”:
A bishop friend of mine said recently that what we need now more than anything as a church, both locally and globally, is a “re-formation” – the kind of fundamental, root-and-branch conversion that goes vastly deeper than the pet issues of American media and political culture to a transformation of hearts, and thereby behavior.
In that regard, sometimes the best lessons for the future can be learned from the experience of the past.
Five centuries ago, just a few years before Luther’s “95 theses,” the Catholic reformer the Rev. John Colet delivered a blisteringly frank homily to a cathedral full of English bishops and senior clergy. To an unamused audience, he argued that “never was there more necessity and never did the state of the church more need” a profound effort at purification – not away from Catholic belief, but back toward living it more zealously, more honestly, more faithfully, as though this world and the next depended on it, because they do.
It hasn’t happened in some 600 years: a conclave of cardinals called together to elect a pope, while the previous pope is still living. So what will this conclave look like?
First, Benedict XVI will officially step down on February 28. The conclave will begin soon thereafter, as quickly as the cardinals across the world can gather in Rome. Benedict is allowed to attend, but not vote; no cardinal over the age of 80 is eligible to vote. Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, says it is unlikely Benedict will play any role in the conclave. John Burger, at Aleteia.com, interviewed several people regarding this historic event:
Father Lombardi said that when the abdication is effective, Pope Benedict will move to the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, but that when renovation work on a former convent of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican, Mater Ecclesia, is complete, the Holy Father will move there “for a period of prayer and reflection.” He said he will not take part in the conclave to elect his successor. Father Lombardi said it is likely that a new pope will be elected in time for Holy Week and Easter. Palm Sunday this year falls on March 24.
The fact that Benedict is still alive “will have no direct impact on the outcome of the conclave,” said Church observer and author Russell Shaw.
Michael Miller, a research fellow at the Acton Institute, says the Pope’s abdication is an act of great humility.
“We live in a world where people are very reticent to let go of anything,” Miller says. He predicts that the spirit of the conclave will be different from previous ones because the Church won’t be mourning a death, but there will be somberness, nonetheless.
As the Cardinals ponder their choice for Benedict’s successor, Miller says, the New Evangelization that was promoted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI will be at the fore. Benedict contributed to that New Evangelization with “deep intellectual work” on the crisis of truth and the “dictatorship of relativism,” the crisis of reason (in his address at Regensburg, he spoke of the need for reason to be “rehabilitated,” purified by faith), the importance of beauty, and the importance of having a friendship with Christ.
The Acton Institute’s staff is heavily featured in the July/August issue of Legatus Magazine. First, there is a brief review of the Rev. Robert Sirico’s new book, ‘Defending the Free Market':
He shows why free-market capitalism is not only the best way to ensure individual success and national prosperity, but is also the surest route to a well-ordered society. Capitalism doesn’t only provide opportunity for material success, it ensures a more ethical and moral society as well.
Next is Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research. His Ethics column for Legatus focuses on the vocation of the Christian business person, as outlined in the document ‘The Vocation of the Christian Business Leader’ (VCBL), from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:
This means that business leaders confront, often on a daily basis, enormous ethical and economic difficulties. The subsequent choices they need to make are not simple. While VCBL suggests that the state has a role in addressing many of these issues, it wisely refrains from entering into detailed policy recommendations about how governments should act in these areas. Instead, it indicates that in many instances the primary responsibility for addressing many such challenges lies with business leaders themselves.
Finally, Gregg is extensively quoted in the feature “Benedict: The ‘Green Pope’, which notes not only Benedict’s strong commitment to the preservation of natural resources, but the misguidance of the Green Movement:
“The Greens’ view of humanity is that we are just another aspect of the natural environment,” said Gregg. “Most are grounded in pantheistic ideology. Within the Greens’ ideology, human beings are bad and it’s better if there are fewer of us. This is why they are so adamant about mandatory contraception for developing countries and why they are so pro-abortion.”
The Catholic Church teaches that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God — and that they are intrinsically good and capable of innovation.
“What’s distinctive about Pope Benedict is that he asks the Greens why there is this degree of disrespect for the human person, which comes out in Green policies,” Gregg said. “They have a false conception on anthropology. Within deep Green writings on the environment, you see a certain ‘humanophobia’ at work, which is materialistic and paganistic.”
A roundup at Notes on Arab Orthodoxy paints a grim picture for Christians — and clashing Islamic sects — in Syria. It’s a gut-wrenching account of kidnappings, torture and beheadings. One report begins with this line: “Over 40 young men (including a couple of doctors) from the Wadi area, were killed by the bearded men who are eager to give us democracy.”
The article also links to a report in Agenzia Fides, which interviewed a Greek-Catholic bishop:
The picture for us – he continues – is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside. A priest was killed and another was wounded by three bullets.
On May 15, Socialist Francois Hollande will be sworn in as France’s new President following elections this past weekend. According to Vatican Radio, Hollande is vowing to overturn many of current President’s Sarkozy’s economic reforms, in an attempt to relieve France’s current debt crisis. One of Hollande’s goals is to increase taxation on millionaires to 75 percent. With more than a quarter of a million French citizens already working in London, this type of heavy taxation may cause an exodus of wealth from France – people with the ability to create and sustain businesses will simply take their money elsewhere to invest.
Kishore Jayabalan, the director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, spoke to Vatican Radio about the election. You can listen to that interview; click on the audio player:
John L. Allen, Jr., at the National Catholic Reporter, took note of the address recently given by Cardinal Peter Turkson, just as Acton did. Allen’s blog post, which referenced Acton’s Samuel Gregg and his National Review Online piece, noted that the Cardinal posed some very specific and probing questions for business people who wish to integrate their spiritual life and work life:
Am I creating wealth, or am I engaging in rent-seeking behavior? (That’s jargon for trying to get rich by manipulating the political and economic environment, for example by lobbying for tax breaks, rather than by actually creating something.)
Is my company making every reasonable effort to take responsibility for unintended consequences [such as] environmental damage or other negative effects on suppliers, local communities and even competitors?
Do I provide working conditions which allow my employees appropriate autonomy at each level?
Am I making sure that the company provides safe working conditions, living wages, training, and the opportunity for employees to organize themselves?
Do I follow the same standard of morality in all geographic locations?
Am I seeking ways to deliver fair returns to providers of capital, fair wages to employees, fair prices to customers and suppliers, and fair taxes to local communities?
Does my company honor its fiduciary obligations … with regular and truthful financial reporting?
When economic conditions demand layoffs, is my company giving adequate notifications, employee transition assistance, and severance pay?
Allen points that this document will be concretely useful: retreats for business people, a foundational document for business education, etc. He says, ‘… it manages to bring Catholic social teaching down to earth without actually floating a single concrete policy proposal. Instead, it asks hard questions and trusts people of intelligence and good will to figure out the right answers.’