Sharing the fever and the excitement of a new Pope’s election live, with the entire world through social network was a new and vibrant experience: From the cheering Italians in Rome, the joking French on Facebook, and the Argentinians going from surprise to cries of joy, rolling over the South American Continent.
Videos from the Vatican, Aljeezara, CNN, BBC….. were showing the white smoke, panning the crowd. We all waited 90 mn for the new Pope to appear. Then, all live streaming came to a stop, and the videos went pitch black and silent. Shortly after, we heard French cardinal Tauran deliver Abemu Papam, relayed by the radio and (in our case) the telephone: “Jorge Marion Bergoglio from Argentina will take the name of Franciscus! The reaction was immediate, the crowd in Rome, fired up, like if they were acclaiming a rock star. President Obama released a welcome message to Pope Francis almost immediately. In Argentina the election of Pope Francisco sent a crowd of parishioners half incredulous, half in a frenzy, running to churches celebrating the event. Meanwhile the French were typing on Twitter, and Facebook, Francois 1er! In reference to the King from the 16th Century. The Vatican issued a statement stressing that the Pope’s official name is François without any number added. Named after St. François d’Assise, or St. Francis of Assisi, patron of the city of San Francisco. A name that symbolizes extreme humility and compassion. Advocating social justice and concern for the disadvantaged, are indeed a life-long dedications for Jorge Mario Bergoglio. In Argentina, he was regularly promoted along the Catholic hierarchy but turned his back on the comfortable lifestyle expected of his rank. Instead he preferred a modest apartment in a working class suburb of Buenos Aires, where he was close from the training field of his beloved Soccer team, and amid those in need. From there he was a morning bus commuter, like those who couldn’t afford a car, when he was entitled to a chauffeur. His frugality should reassure all of the Catholics who are becoming increasingly aware of the church’s opulence contradicting Jesus’ gospel. Francis’ first homely last Thursday, wearing a simple light gold head cover instead of the rutilante mirth, displayed a simple style and resolve emphasizing Jesus worship and Gospel.” The protocol requested that he speaks sitting, miter on his head and cross in hand, he spoke with no miter, no cross, and standing (…) as a simple parish priest.” comments a Christian journalist.
However, among the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, Francis is not unanimously praised. In Argentina, his lack of stance against the “Dirty War” is interpreted by some as a conniving attitude toward the military junta. A dictatorship who took over the country in 1973, arresting, torturing and allegedly murdering 30,000 people who inexplicably vanished during their 10 years reign of terror. It was also in 1973, that novice master Jorge Bergoglio was appointed Provincial General, by the Society of Jesus. He held this position until 1979, and reported to the institute’s Superior General. From this period stemmed the suspicion that the Argentine Church adopted a passive attitude and didn’t do much to counter the junta. These accusations are stigmatized in numerous reports published by renowned Argentinian investigative journalist and human rights advocate Horacio Verbitsky, nicknamed “the dog” , who dug deep into the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the military dictatorship. According to “the dog”, Father Bergoglio was responsible for the arrest of two priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalicis, who were locked up and tortured for 5 months before being dumped half naked in a field. In 2010, Horacio interviewed Yorio’s siblings Graciela and Rodolfo: “I know people he helped,” said Rodolfo. “That’s exactly what reveals his two faces, and his closeness to the military powers. He was a master at ambiguity.” Hungarian Jesuit Franz Jalicis is currently in spiritual retreat in his native country, and declined to comment about Bergoglio’s role in the ordeal; Yorio died in 2000. In 2012, Argentine bishops collectively apologized for the mistakes of the church in the country’s “Dirty War” in the 1970s and early 80s.
St Francis d’ Assisi, became the apostle of the slums, and the most vulnerable by following a voice that told him: ” Go Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.” Today 77 voices was needed to raise Cardinal Bergoglio to the rank of Pope. His mission is to restore the trust in the Catholic church and its principals, ruined by the revelation of serial sexual abuses, cover ups, tolerance towards the abusers (spiritual and physical) , and failure to hold the higher hierarchy responsible:
- In Germany alone, 180,000 faithfuls ended their church affiliation reports RNS (Religion News Service) “The increase of church departures in 2010 represents a loss of trust that fell especially hard on the church because of the abuse cases,” said Dominik Schwaderlappe, the general vicar of Cologne. ” This is painful for us, because it clearly shows that people are using church departures as their personal form of protest and as a way to show their disgust with the scandal.”
- In United States: The number of people who have left the Catholic church is huge, ” wrote National Catholic Reporter. Based on the survey released by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic.”
Francis preaches a return to the Gospel, for the protection of all living organisms, all of them, paying particular attention to those who can’t defend themselves. He is against marriage equality, because “adoption by homosexuals will discriminate children”. He is against all forms of contraception and abortion, and everything that will alter the core belief of the Catholic church. Francis, the Pope “next door”, was elected by a council of cardinals as a shepherd for a time of crisis, for a time when the flock has dispersed and only exceptional skills and experience can regroup them successfully.