Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pray for Protection of the Pope

We must pray for the protection of Pope Francis.

It is clear already that the new Bishop of Rome will not docilely follow the practices and conventions of his immediate predecessors.

His decision not to wear the customary red papal cape before stepping out on the loggia of St. Peter's the night of his election was the first sign that, in the words of Italian journalist Massimo Franco, "the end of the Pope-King and of the Vatican Court is over."

Jorge Brigoglio's previous life-style (his simple accommodations, his riding the bus to work, his pastoral ministry even as cardinal) will obviously carry over into his lifestyle as pope.

It has been reported that when he walked into the papal apartment his initial reaction was, "There's room for 300 people here --I don't need all this space."

The new bishop of Rome sounds more like Jesus of Nazareth and Francis of Assisi ("Go sell all that you have and give to the poor...Take nothing with you on the road...Deny yourself").

Pope Francis explained his choice of the name. He said that a cardinal from Brazil urged him not to forget the poor. That encouragement led him to reflect on Francis of Assisi and three aspects of the saint's life: self-imposed poverty, love of peace, and concern for the environment.

We must pray for the protection of Pope Francis.

As beloved as he already is, Papa Francesco will inevitably face rejection, ridicule, and even persecution for being different. Bullying simple souls is no more a stranger on the world stage or in Church circles than it is on a school bus or playground.

Some well-meaning souls will reject his way of doing things on the grounds that he undermines the dignity of his office and the authority of the Church.

Some will ridicule him for "catering to the poor," for reflecting the pastoral more than the dogmatic, for threatening the mindset of the more "conservative" members of the Church.

Some will persecute him for his perceived involvement or lack-of-involvement  in response to Argentine politics, for whatever he decides to do about the scandals in the Curia, for his response to pedophilia and its cover-up.

I fear for his life. We must pray for the protection of Pope Francis.

It is common knowledge that anyone who dares raise his head above the crowd has placed himself in danger.

"They" killed Archbishop Oscar Romero, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Sister Dorothy Stang, lay-missionary Jean Donovan, even Jesus of Nazareth.

Pope Francis' walking among the people, shaking hands, kissing babies, and simply being accessible put him in danger.

We do not pray that he change his modus operandi. May it continue. May his pastoral sensitivity pervade the Church. May his intention to pass on an optimism and hope to younger generations who are looking for spiritual guidance be realized. May his papacy bring about that new Pentecost so intently hoped for at Vatican II.

We must, however, pray for his protection.


  1. Yes, yes and yes. We will continue to pray for Pope Francis, for his safety and that he does not change his simple ways.

  2. Several of us prayed together for Pope Francis Sunday morning per your recommendation at the SHJ Peace and Justice Meeting, Fairfield