Pope Francis I

Dear parishioners and friends of SSJ,

I wanted to send a quick note to express the excitement I feel surrounding the election of our new pope: Francis I. How could Franciscans not be excited about the pope choosing that name? Actually, I was surprised that no previous pope had ever chosen to take the name of a man who has been considered an "alter-Christus," or alternative Christ figure. There have been Franciscan popes in the past, but no pope has ever chosen the name Francis. I spoke to my mother immediately after the election and she told me she was "rooting" for Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston who is a Capuchin friar. Realizing that a pope from the United States was a long shot, she told me that she prayed the new pope might just take the name of Francis. I guess I should be asking her for some lottery numbers!

I celebrate the fact that our new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, comes from Latin America, home to the largest concentration of Roman Catholics in the world. This is great news for our Church. Another aspect worth celebrating is the fact that he is a member of a religious order, the Jesuits. Okay, he could have been a Franciscan, but this is the second best option! To be trained in religious life is to understand communal living and to accept the particular disciplines and charism of a particular way of living the gospel. With his Jesuit background and his option to be identified by our Holy Father, St. Francis of Assisi, I can only see great hope for our Church.

I pray that Pope Francis can lead the Roman Catholic Church, which is all of us, on a humble path of healing and a holy path of newly invigorated faith so that all people will know we are Christians by our love!

Que viva el papa nuevo!
Fr. Daniel Barica, ofm