Summary of today’s show: Who is Pope Francis? Scot Landry and Fr. Roger Landry talk about the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, who he is, how he was elected, what he was like as a Jesuit priest and archbishop in Argentina, and what we can expect from him in the future. Plus, how to address all the supposed controversies that will be dragged up to try to throw doubt on him.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry
Links from today’s show:
- George Martell’s photos from Rome at BostonCatholicPhotos.com
- Scot Landry’s video updates from Rome on YouTube.com
Today’s topics: LIVE from Rome: Who is Pope Francis?
1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone to the show. Last night we heard the announcement of Pope Francis and he said it was a great honor to be in the crowd. He thinks the Church is going to love Pope Francis. He has lived a simple life as archbishop of Buenos Aires. HE thinks he will be a pope of signs and gestures.
He welcomed Fr. Roger to the show. Fr. Roger said he was on live with Fox News and while Megyn Kelly was hesitant to say it was white smoke, he said it was clearly white compared to the previous black smoke. As soon as he was done, he ran down the stairs to the street and ran the blocks to the St. Peter’s Square so he could do a live video on his iPhone so his parishioners back home could experience it.
Fr. Roger said he’d originally thought after five ballots, the odds were high it was Cardinal Scola or maybe it was Cardinal Dolan. He said when Cardinal Tauran came out and said “Georgium”, he quickly ran through the handful of Georges among the cardinals and then was stunned to hear “Bergoglio”.
Scot said he and George Martell were up front among young people and young sisters. They couldn’t hear clearly and so when he heard Franciscum, he thought maybe he’d misheard earlier and it might be Cardinal Seán. There was a long wait for the Holy Father to come out and they saw the new Pope Francis. Scot said he was very quiet and he paused for a long time looking out on St. Peter’s Square. He might have been reflecting on his awesome new responsibility. Fr. Roger said he has a beautiful smile but his reputation is that he doesn’t let it erupt very often.
Fr. Roger said his Italian is beautiful because his parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina. His first words were simple and humble. He addressed everyone as brothers and sisters. He immediately said, “Rome has her bishop.” He was making a connection to one of his principal duties. Today, he went over to St. Mary Major to pray before an image of Our Lady. There was a fire in the 6th century that would have destroyed a major part of the city and Pope St. George carried the image in procession through the fire and extinguished it. It was made famous again in 1940 when Pope Pius XII processed with the image all night to pray that Rome would be spared from Nazi carpetbombing. Huge cloud cover came over and instead the bombs dropped on a huge cemetery outside the city.
Scot said two things stood out to him. The first was that he kept calling himself Bishop of Rome, not Supreme Pontiff or Pope. Something else that stood out to him was that he asked everyone to pray over him before he blessed the crowd. Fr. Roger said it shows that he’s first a man of prayer. He suffered in the Church in Argentina as the Jesuit order there had been taken over by those who believed in a Marxist Gospel. He was or less banished to be a simple chaplain, but he ended up becoming a great confessor and spiritual director. So his first act as pope was to lead everyone in prayer for Benedict XVI.
Fr. Roger made the distinction that he asked us to pray for God to bless him. What moved Fr. Roger was how profoundly he bowed during the prayer to receive the strength to do what he’s been asked to do. Fr. Roger gave him his priestly blessing just like newly ordained priests give their bishop a blessing during their ordination Mass.
Scot asked the significance of the name Francis. He’s very popular in Italy and one of the two patron saints of Italy with St. Catherine of Siena. Fr. Roger said St. Francis was praying in the dilapidated church of San Damiano and heard Christ speak from the crucifix to rebuild his church. At first he thought it meant rebuild that chapel, but then the Lord made it clear to rebuild the church of men, women, and children, the living stones. When St. Francis came to Rome, on the eve of his appearance, Pope Innocent had a dream of a man in a burlap sack holding up the corner of St. John Lateran Church, the pope’s cathedral. The next day he saw this friar from his dream came in. He had been there to ask to start a religious order, which wasn’t being done any more because they thought there were too many already.
Pope Francis knows that the reform begins with each of us living our faith, living stone by living stone, this is how Christ’s whole Church will proclaim that is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
Scot asked the significance of a Jesuit taking the name of St. Francis. Fr. Roger said he shares St. Francis’ love for the poor and his personal simplicity. He thinks it’s a unifier in that St. Francis is the one human being, no matter what religion or no religion, consider the one saint. There is universal reverence for St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis, if he lives up to the standard, will unite the Church in prayer and simple, humble service.
Scot said he’s likely to be a pope of symbols. As archbishop, he gave up his mansion and moved into an apartment, gave up his limo and rode public transportation, and gave up his cook to make his own meals. Even last night, he eschewed the papal limo and took the cardinals’ bus back to the Casa S. Martae. He preached that he didn’t need any of the fancy things of his office.
Fr. Roger said there’s a distinction between symbols and signs. Symbols are arbitrary, like a stop sign. Smoke is a sign of a fire which points naturally to what it’s related. So his actions are signs pointing to a real connection. It was far more symbolic, but signs of who he is and who we as Christians ought to be. When he invited the ailing emeritus archbishop to live with him in that apartment and cooked meals for both of them, he invited in a very poor community to use the episcopal residence. He’s trying to live as Jesus would live. You can’t preach the Gospel to the poor arriving in a Mercedes-Benz.
In the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, information came out that Cardinal Bergoglio was runner up and had 40 votes in the second to last ballot. It’s also reported he stood and asked his supporters to vote for Ratzinger. It shows he’s had strong support from his brother cardinals and he wasn’t gunning for the job. Fr. Roger said for all the cardinals all who participated in 2005, about half of those still in this years’ conclave, Pope Francis wouldn’t have lost any of those qualities. He is a teacher who teaches by his lips and life; he’s a reformer who reformed the Jesuits in Argentina and the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. That means he’s a man who could clean up the Roman Curia.
Scot said he’s the first pope from the Americas, first Francis, and first Jesuit. Scot said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said Pope Francis comes from the new heartland of the Catholic Church. Forty-two percent of Catholics come from Latin America. Fr. Roger said he’s thrilled to have the first American pope. We’ve been formed by the European missionaries and now Europe needs to be re-evangelized.
Italians noted how well Pope Francis spoke Italian, a native son who brought back real gifts from abroad.
Scot said in the US we call ourselves Americans, but everyone in North, South and Central America are Americans. In the eyes of the Church, America includes all three. He said if you measure from the tip of Alaska to the tip of Chile, Mexico City where our Lady of Guadalupe appeared is dead center. We should be proud of him as a native son.
Scot said he’s pleased to see that Pope Francis asked someone to send out a tweet at the @Pontifex Twitter handle with the simple Habemus Papam Franciscum. Fr. Roger thinks he will continue to use media. Pope Francis knows the importance of using every pulpit possible to reach the people where they are. We’ll see the continuation of this path in new media as a priority.
Scot noted the Holy Father’s sense of humor in toasting the cardinals and saying, “May God forgive you” for electing him. Fr. Roger talked about the Holy Father’s emphasis in his ministry on God’s forgiveness and merciful love.
They noted his episcopal motto translates as “Needing mercy and being chosen”.
Scot and Fr. Roger discussed the controversies the media will latch onto. First, there is the claim of complicity with the military junta in Argentina. Second, supporting the Church’s teaching on contraception, and Third, supporting the church’s teaching on the family.
On the first, two of his Jesuit priests wanted to advocate violence to overturn the military junta. When they were arrested, they asked him, as provincial minister, to lie to protect them and he refused. Later he also stood up for them and put his life on the line to ask for them to be released. But he didn’t lie.
On the teaching on contraception and condoms, it’s said he advocated the use of condoms for the prevention of disease. Most Catholics don’t know the Church’s teaching with regard to contraception. Pope Paul VI said it’s immoral for a married couple to use it to prevent conception. But in regards to acts of violence, like marital rape by a husband with AIDS, that’s different.
Scot said some of the media have talked about how the new Holy Father could change the doctrine of the Church, which isn’t possible. On the third element, he taught what the Church has always taught about the family and the rights of children to be raised in the context of mother and father.
Fr. Roger said Pope Francis defies categorization as a moderate, conservative or liberal. Catholics are to be 100% faithful to the Good News and 100% faithful to the Lord’s command to love one another. He’s 100% orthodox and 100% charitable.
He has said that same-sex activity is sinful, but those with those attractions are to be loved and afforded all their human rights, which don’t include the right to marry another of the same sex or to adopt children along with someone of the same sex.
Pope Francis said children have a right to be raised by a mother and father, and children raised by two men or two women often report as adults that they have suffered as a result. It’s child abuse when we say a child doesn’t need both a mother and father, which is different from saying that if circumstances require they can be raised by one or another of their parents. It’s about saying a child doesn’t need a mother and a father.
Fr. Roger said the evil of sexual abuse of minors is horrible and disgusting. When Jesus was talking about the worst imaginable sin, he said one who hears what I says and teaches other to fail to live it is fit to be tied to a millstone and thrown in the sea. As evil as sexual abuse of minors is, this type of poison of false teaching that leads people away from heaven is even worse, if we can imagine it. Our culture can’t pretend that there isn’t real truth or that all paths lead to heaven. Pope Francis has fought that and the Church has fought it. We need to understand the importance of communicating the Good News even when we are signs of contradiction.
Scot said we look forward to Pope Francis’ first few days. He’s going to meet with Benedict XVI, meet with journalists, and on Sunday give a blessing at the Angelus, and on Tuesday morning there will be the Mass of inauguration and installation.
Fr. Roger talked of what he thinks we’ll see from Pope Francis soon. He believes the Roman Curia reform will begin soon through his preaching and actions. He will lay the foundations over the next few days.