Program #0488 for Friday, March 15, 2013: LIVE From Rome: Cardinal Seán’s first press conference after the conclave

LIVE From Rome: Cardinal Seán's first press conference after the conclave

LIVE From Rome: Cardinal Seán’s first press conference after the conclave

Summary of today’s show: After emerging from the silence of the conclave that elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston met with reporters from Boston and beyond to discuss voting in the conclave, his impressions of the new Holy Father, and what he takes away from the experience. Also, Scot Landry provides his perspective on the events as a pilgrim in St. Peter’s Square. Finally, we look at the upcoming Sunday Mass readings.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry

Today’s guest(s): Cardinal Seán O’Malley

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Today’s topics: LIVE From Rome: Cardinal Seán’s first press conference after the conclave

1st segment: Thank you Rick. Welcome everyone, those listening in Boston and in these weeks of papal transition, those listening to the Station of the Cross from upstate New York and on iCatholic Radio.

The world is learning so much more about our New Holy Father, Pope Francis. We are hearing reactions from Cardinals who participated in the Conclave to his election. We are also learning from his actions and from his first homily to the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel a little bit more about his priorities as Pope.

We will hear Cardinal Sean’s reactions in the first half of the show and then reflect on Pope Francis’ first homily as our Holy Father in the second half of the show.

But first, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be standing in Saint Peter’s Square to see the white smoke, to hear “Habemus Papam” and the new Pope’s former name, and then to receive the Apostolic blessing.

Until Wednesday night in Rome, I wondered about that too. But I had such a privileged opportunity to be there for the surprise of an earlier election than most anticipated and then to see, hear and experience what it was like.

At around 7pm, when the smoke appeared, it was raining heavily in Piazza San Pietro. So you needed to move around the umbrellas to see the sightlines. Here is how I reacted:

Then after a period of waiting, here is what it sounded like in St. Peter’s Square when they announced who the next Holy Father would be.

Then about 10 minutes later, we heard the first words from Pope Francis.

Then our New Holy Father gave us his first Apostolic Blessing.

The whole experience was tremendously moving.

For a complete description of what it was like, please visit TheGoodCatholicLife.com and see my blog posting of the experience.

We’ll be back after this and we’ll listen to Cardinal Sean’s press conference yesterday with the Boston Media. You are listening to The Good Catholic Life.

2nd segment:

Welcome back to the Good Catholic Life on our 2nd full day of the papacy of Pope Francis.

Yesterday at the Pontifical North America College, Cardinal Seán greeted the press from Boston. It was a packed room just of Boston journalists. There asking questions were Lisa Zoll from the Associated Press, Joe Mathieu from WBZ radio, Lisa Hughes from WBZ-TV, Kim Khazei from WHDH, Heather Unruh from WCVB, Patricia Thomas from Associated Press TV, Lisa Wangness and David Filipov from the Globe, plus their camera operators and producers.

In my brief conversations with Cardinal Seán before and after the media events, it was very apparent that he rejoiced in the election of Pope Francis and that he was extremely happy he would be returning to Boston to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week.

We’ll begin with his opening statement and then you’ll hear questions from the journalists around the room.


Cardinal Seán: Well obviously, for everyone in the Church, that decision of Pope Benedict to resign was a shock, and in some ways, a crisis for us. To be without a Pope is being [spiritually] orphaned.

So, the Conclave has given us a new Holy Father, a new representative for the Church, and a new Vicar of Christ. So it’s obviously a moment of great joy for the whole Catholic world. Being a part of it was a very humbling and moving experience. The Conclave is a very prayerful experience. It’s almost like a retreat. I know that when you read the Italian papers, it seems like it a political campaign, or like the primaries or something. [Laughter]

It really is a spiritual and prayerful experience of discernment. When you walk up with a ballot in your hand and stand before the image of the Last Judgment and say, “with Christ as my witness, I am voting for the one whom I feel is the one God wants to do this [Petrine Ministry]. This is a great responsibility.

Obviously, we’re delighted that the Holy Spirit moved us to elect Pope Francis. I certainly approve of the name! [Laughter]

It is a great thing for us to have a Pope from the New World. I won’t say he’s the first non-European [Pope], because early on there were African Popes in the Church. He’s the first one from our hemisphere and obviously that’s a part of the world where half of the Catholics live. Also, almost half the Catholics in the United States are also Hispanic. The Pope is everyone’s Holy Father, but it’s a wonderful connection for him to have that cultural and linguistic tie with so many of the faithful.

We’re also happy to see the interest of the press. [Laughter.] So many have been credentialed to cover this event. Last night, from the loggia looking down at the multitude in the Square, listening to the roar of enthusiasm, seeing all the flashes going off, hearing the papal anthem being played, and listening to the Holy Father’s words, and asking the people to pray with him and praying the very simple prayers that all Catholics know: The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Glory Be. It was very moving.

Rachel Zoll from the Associated Press: Could you talk a little bit about how you got to know Pope Francis? How long have you known him?

Cardinal Seán: Well, I first met him in different meetings over the years. A couple years ago I was his guest in Argentina. I have always known of him and been an admirer of his. He’s very close to a number of the Capuchins in Argentina, who are the members of my order.

[Followup] Rachel Zoll from the Associated Press: Would it be fair to say you know him very well?

Cardinal Seán: Yes.

Joe Mathieu from WBZ radio. Good morning and thank you for spending time with us. We appreciate you for being so generous. Your name has been thrown around in the Boston press, Italian press, International press for some many days with so much speculation. I am wondering if you feel a sense of relief this morning that you have the same job?

Cardinal Seán: As I told someone this morning, if the only prerequisite for being Pope was not wanting the job, I would have been the most qualified Cardinal in the Conclave. [Laughter.] So, of course, I was gratified by the warmth of the Italians in their enthusiasm for me. But that’s because they love St. Francis. They got a Pope Francis anyway, so I hope they’re satisfied. [Laughter.]

Lisa Hughes from WBZ-TV. When we were here last night, Your Eminence, Cardinal Dolan described the moment when Pope Francis said “accepto.” He said that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Can you describe that moment when former Cardinal Bergoglio accepted this honor?

Cardinal Seán: Well, obviously, we were all hoping that he wouldn’t decline. [Laughter.] It was a very moving moment. Afterwards, each one of us went up and kissed his ring, hugged him, and congratulated him. It was a very moving experience, truly.

Kim Khazei from WHDH. I wanted to just ask that about the popularity. Even though you said you bought a round trip ticket, a lot of people thought that you would be a great fit for the job. Your humility. What else is there about you that you might have been able to bring to the table? You also spoke about Pope Francis, particularly you talked about reforming the Church being a priority. Do you expect to see more the same or change in the Catholic Church?

Cardinal Seán: Pope Francis is coming out of Latin America where there is such a contrast of rich and poor, and so many very grave social problems. He is a man who is very much impassioned by the desire to make the Church present to people in their suffering, relieve the suffering of the poor, and make them feel that it is their Church. I think that is going to have repercussions in this pontificate.

[Followup] Kim Khazei from WHDH. With some of the pain people have felt back home in Massachusetts and in the United States, with the scandal, do you think there will be healing there?

Cardinal Seán: I’m confident that there will be. This is a man who has a great sense of mission. He values transparency. I have great confidence that he will further the process of healing in our Church.

Heather Unruh from WCVB – It’s great to see you. Thanks for having us today. Can you tell me your reaction when you realized that this was would be the first Jesuit Pope? What does he significantly and uniquely bring to the Papacy?

Cardinal Seán: The Jesuit order is one of the most important orders in the Church. I make a lot of jokes about Franciscans and Jesuits [laughter]. Their educational ministry and their presence in our missions is so great. They are known for their discernment. We need a wise and discerning leader in the Church at this time. I’m sure that he will help to re-energize the Catholic identity of Jesuit education and be a great source of encouragement to the Jesuit order throughout the world.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a religious as Pope. I think having somebody in the consecrated life as Pope is also a way of lifting up this vocation in the Church, of men and women religious, who so often around the frontlines throughout the world.

We’re very, very pleased that we have a Jesuit Pope.

Patricia Thomas from Associated Press TV – A Jesuit priest said to me this morning that Pope Francis came out without the mozetto on top of his vestments. This is a Pope who’s not going to fit in with the ‘silk and fur atmosphere’ of the papal court? Do you agree with that? Also, Thursday he is supposed to go to Castel Gandolfo. How do you think his relationship with the Pope Emeritus is going to work?

Cardinal Seán: I’m sure that he will have a very great relationship with Pope Benedict. In fact, I was touched that one of the first things he did [last night] was to ask people to pray for Pope Benedict, and he expressed gratitude for his ministry.

Obviously, as a Latin American, he doesn’t have the same weight of European history that people from this continent have. So I think he’s probably to be a little freer to perhaps jettison some of the traditional things. Those traditions are important to our people too, so there has to be a balance between what is appropriate in the 21st-century and what is a holdover from the past.

Scot Landry from TheGoodCatholicLife.com and The Pilot- Cardinal Seán you mentioned you like the name Francis that he took. St. Francis had a mandate to rebuild the Church, primarily spiritually. Do you think that’s the significance of him choosing the name Francis, that he thinks he has a mandate to rebuild the Church?

Cardinal Seán: I think that there are three themes in St. Francis that he’s identifying with. I haven’t spoken with him about this, so I’m sort of reading his mind.

Certainly , he rebuilding the Church, the reforms of government in the Church and so forth [is one].

Also, certainly Francis as a universal brother. Francis wanted to be a brother to everyone. We have the famous “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” Yesterday he spoke about the brotherhood, the fraternity, that he wants to reign in the Church and in the world. That people look at themselves as brothers and sisters. That’s a very Franciscan theme.

Also, St. Francis’s love for the poor. For St. Francis the poor person was the Sacrament of Christ. Christ emptied himself, took on the form of a slave, and embraced the cross for love of us. For Francis, the poor person was a sacrament of Christ. That’s the vision that Pope Francis has and that’s why he chose that name.

He was very clear right from the beginning. He said this is in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, not Francis Xavier who was the Jesuit. [Laughter].

Rachel Zoll from the Associated Press: Can you talk a little bit about the stability and some the challenges ahead for this Pope? There was some surprise about age. There were expectations and built up that perhaps somebody younger would be chosen as Pope, so that the Pontificate would be a little bit longer. Can you talk about that a little bit? Was that assumption wrong?

Cardinal Seán: Obviously the assumption was wrong. [Laughter.] I think age was a consideration, but there were other considerations that weighed more heavily I think on the discernment process.

Whether the Pope’s reign is long or short is not particularly important. Pope John XXIII was older when he was elected and so was Pope Benedict.

I think the experience that he has and the gifts that he brings to the ministry are so precious and wonderful.

Joe Mathieu from WBZ Radio – Cardinal Seán, it’s been reported many times over the past 12 to 24 hours that Cardinal Bergoglio rejected many of the luxuries that are enjoyed by many Cardinals across the world: no limousines; no mansions; he lived in a small apartment; cooked his own meals they say; took the bus to work. I’m wondering to what extent you relate with that lifestyle and whether this is going to be a change in lifestyle for all Cardinals around the world.

Cardinal Seán: I’m not sure what the impact will be. Certainly, the simplicity with which he has lived [is a example for all]. I think he’s been very faithful and has tried to live his religious life even as a Bishop and as a cardinal. That’s a good example that we hope will have an impact.

Lisa Hughes from WBZ-TV. Your Eminence, what do you want to people in Boston to know about Pope Francis today?

Cardinal Seán: Well, just that is a very good man, and that he’s going to be a good leader for the Church. His experience of coming out of Latin America is also very important to us in the New World, and particularly, in the growing immigrant populations in Boston. I think there will be a great sense of joy and identification with the Holy Father.

I’m curious to see what will happen this Summer at World Youth Day. They were already talking about 2 to 3 million young people in Rio. But that was before they counted on all of Argentina coming, [laughter] and the rest of Latin America. It will be quite a wonderful event.

[Followup] Lisa Hughes from WBZ-TV. Will you go?

Cardinal Seán: Yes.

Kim Khazei from WHDH: Cardinal Seán, when you first walked into the room and made your opening remarks, you said you were moved when Pope Francis asked people to pray. It brought you close to tears. What specifically where you were reflecting on that made you so emotional?

Cardinal Seán: They were simple prayers that all Catholics know. From children to old people, to those who have university education, and those who are illiterate. Those prayers unite us all in the same family of faith.

It was beautiful to see how he was able to hush hundreds of thousands of people who were cheering and so enthusiastic. He was able to bring them to the moment of prayer, to be in God’s presence.

[Followup] Kim Khazei from WHDH: Did this whole experience end up being one of the most important moments of your life?

Cardinal Seán: I never imagined as a child that someday I would be a part of the Conclave. Some of you may be old enough to remember there was a movie out – “The Cardinal” – many years ago. Although the storyline was not the most edifying, they were famous for the way they replicated the scene in the Sistine Chapel. I never imagined that someday I would be in that Chapel, taking that oath before Christ the Judge of the world, and being part of choosing a new successor to Saint Peter.

Heather Unruh from WCVB: I know you’ve made it clear, Cardinal Seán, that you looked forward to that round-trip ticket home. What are you most looking forward to? I know that if you had been as Pope, you would give up the entire life that you’ve known so far. So now that you know if you’re returning to Boston, and the things you love, what are you most looking forward to?

Cardinal Seán: During Holy Week, we have the Chrism Mass, which to me is one of the most important moments of the year. I gather with all the priests, we renew our vows to serve God’s people, we bless the oils that are used as our tools for baptisms, confirmations, and anointing of the sick. That’s always a very important moment for priests. I look forward to sharing that moment with my priests each year.

[Followup] Heather Unruh from WCVB: Are you also looking forward to some of the smaller things in life, the things that you like to do? Maybe you could elaborate on if you have a favorite street you walk on.

Cardinal Seán: Well I think just being able to go out and walk. [Laughter]. People talk about the palace that the Pope has and everything. He’s a prisoner in a museum. [Laughter]. It’s not a wonderful life.

In fact, I read Cardinal Dziwisz’s book about his experience being Pope John Paul II’s secretary for so many years. In that book, he reveals that John Paul II used to sneak out [of the Vatican] to go skiing. Nobody knew about that. I was so happy, [laughter] because the Italian government, The Gendarmes, the Army and everyone else would have had a fit. But they used to put him in the backseat of the car and go out and go skiing.

I hope Francis will be able to sneak out occasionally, to go to a tango show or something. [Laughter.]

Patricia Thomas from Associated Press TV – Last night I was standing at the obelisk just like I was when Cardinal Ratzinger came out in 2005. It was taking longer. I was standing with a lot of Italian photographers who were joking around saying, “it’s taking so long, he must be panicking back there because he doesn’t want to do it.” Why was it taking so long? Was he doing the tango? [Laughter.] What was going on back there?

Cardinal Seán: Well, there was such a crowd of people. Just getting him through took a long time because everybody wanted to congratulate him. A lot of the workers came in at that time. Also I think that they also wait to give people the time to get to the Piazza. I think he could have gone out earlier.

The Sistine Chapel is right near the loggia. From the Sistine Chapel, we first prayed the Te Deum, a hymn of Thanksgiving. Then we greeted the Holy Father individually. Then we started walking over toward the big window. Then there was a big crowd out there [in the loggia] that kind of slowed things down. [Overall] I think the plan is always to give enough time for people to get to the Piazza once the word gets out that there is white smoke.

Scot Landry from TheGoodCatholicLife.com and The Pilot- Cardinal Seán, you’ve just gone through a week of General Congregation meetings and a couple of days in the Conclave. You’ve been a priest for more than 40 years, a Bishop for more than 25, and a Cardinal for 7 years. What have you learned new, over the last week or so, that has helped you appreciate the beauty of the Catholic Faith more, that you look forward to sharing with Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston?

Cardinal Seán: The catholicity of the Church. Being with the Cardinals from all over the world and listening to them talk about the experience of the faith and their people in Asia and Africa and South America and North America and Europe. The mission that we share as Catholics. Our fraternity in the Church, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, through our baptism. It’s a very moving experience.

Lisa Wangsness from the Boston Globe. Could you talk about the kind of relationship you expect to have as Cardinal Archbishop of Boston with the new Pope. Do you expect to invite him to Boston? Do you think because you share a love for Latin America and the Spanish language, that you’ll have any particular mission or projects that you’ll be working on?

Cardinal Seán: It’s a little early to forecast. Certainly, as Cardinals, we are at the disposition of the Holy Father and are his advisors. I told him that whatever we can do to help, we stand ready.

We would look forward to inviting him someday to Boston. It would be good. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Pope there. John Paul II was there in 1979. So we’re due. [Laughter.]

David Filopov from the Boston Globe. We have heard snippets of things that the Pope has said that portray a humility and a sense of humor. Where you there at the toast, for example, when he said “may God forgive you all” [for electing me]. How does he come across as a person? Is he really the soft-spoken, self-deprecating man that was seen glimpses of?

Cardinal Seán: He is. He’s very disarming.

I had lunch with him yesterday before the vote [laughing]. At that point, he seemed very weighed down by what was happening. Last night, I think that was at peace in his heart that God’s will has been accomplished in his life.

He’s very approachable. He’s very friendly. He has a good sense of humor. He’s very quick and a joy to be with.

[Followup] David Filopov from the Boston Globe. Father Lombardi told us that he didn’t use the papal car but rather he rode back on the bus with the other Cardinals. How was the atmosphere? Were you surprised that he rode back on the bus? Did you expect that?

Cardinal Seán: That’s what I would’ve expected.

Lisa Wangsness from the Boston Globe. Can you talk a little bit about the time you spend with him in Buenos Aires in 2010?

Cardinal Seán: I was there on business for the USCCB, the Bishops conference, and I was his guest. We did have the time to visit and talk a lot about this situation of the Church in Latin America. We spoke a lot about our some of our mutual friends.

He gave me a great CD that I enjoy very much. It is the Misa Criolla, which is Argentine music for a Mass arrangement. It was a very pleasant and very informal visit, because my business for the USCCB was not precisely with him. With him, it was more of a social visit.

[Followup] Lisa Wangsness from the Boston Globe. Were you at his house?

Cardinal Seán: Yes.

[Followup] Lisa Wangsness from the Boston Globe. Did you visit his apartment? If so, can you describe it?

Cardinal Seán: He lives in the part of the Chancery, which is a church office building. There’s an apartment in there and perhaps his secretaries. I’m not really sure who is in the other apartments.


Those are Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s remarks at the press conference yesterday with Boston media.

I’d like to highlight 7 points from his remarks that stood out to me.

  1. Cardinal described the Conclave as a very prayerful experience. It’s almost like a retreat. It really is a spiritual experience of discernment. When you walk up with a ballot in your hand and stand before the image of the Last Judgment and say, “with Christ as my witness, I am voting for the one whom I feel is the one God wants to do this [Petrine Ministry]. This is a great responsibility. He also mentioned it was so easy to pray looking at the ceiling and the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.
  2. Cardinal Sean was thrilled that he took the name Francis and he made sure to emphasize that Pope Francis took the name to emulate St. Francis of Assisi. He speculated that he did it for 3 reasons – Because of St. Francis’ mission to rebuild the Church. Because of St. Francis’ emphasis that we all are brothers and sisters in the Lord. And because of St. Francis’ love of the poor.
  3. Cardinal Seán expressed his happiness at coming home to Boston soon and clarified that he didn’t want the job with his typical humor: “As I told someone this morning, if the only prerequisite for being Pope was not wanting the job, I would have been the most qualified Cardinal in the Conclave. [Laughter.] So, of course, I was gratified by the warmth of the Italians in their enthusiasm for me. But that’s because they love St. Francis. They got a Pope Francis anyway, so I hope they’re satisfied.” [Laughter.]
  4. Cardinal Sean became emotional when he described the experience looking at the crowd in Piazza San Pietro and Francis calling them to prayer. He said “Last night, from the loggia looking down at the multitude in the Square, listening to the roar of enthusiasm, seeing all the flashes going off, hearing the papal anthem being played, and listening to the Holy Father’s words, and asking the people to pray with him and praying the very simple prayers that all Catholics know: The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Glory Be. It was very moving. They were simple prayers that all Catholics know. From children to old people, to those who have university education, and those who are illiterate. Those prayers unite us all in the same family of faith. It was beautiful to see how he was able to hush hundreds of thousands of people who were cheering and so enthusiastic. He was able to bring them to the moment of prayer, to be in God’s presence.
  5. Cardinal Sean said that age was a consideration, but there were other considerations that weighed more heavily I think on the discernment process. He commented that whether the Pope’s reign is long or short is not particularly important. Pope John XXIII was older when he was elected and so was Pope Benedict. I think the experience that he has and the gifts that he brings to the ministry are so precious and wonderful.
  6. Cardinal Sean said that he’s most looking to returning to Boston for Holy Week. He said “During Holy Week, we have the Chrism Mass, which to me is one of the most important moments of the year. I gather with all the priests, we renew our vows to serve God’s people, we bless the oils that are used as our tools for baptisms, confirmations, and anointing of the sick. That’s always a very important moment for priests. I look forward to sharing that moment with my priests each year.
  7. In describing Pope Francis personally, Cardinal Sean said that he knew him well and mentioned that Pope Francis is very approachable, very friendly, has a good sense of humor, he’s very quick thinking and a joy to be with.

Next on the Good Catholic Life, we’ll discuss Pope Francis’ first homily to the Cardinals and to the world. Please stay tuned.

3rd segment: Yesterday, Pope Francis met with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel at 5pm for the Celebration of Mass. He preached without written remarks and he did it from the pulpit instead of sitting in a chair. It was very different from what we’ve seen over the last couple of decades. It was impressive to me, given all he’s been through over the past few days, to hear him deliver such an eloquent homily off the cuff.

Here is a translated version of what he preached, courtesy of ZENIT.org


There is something that I see that these three readings have in common: movement. In the first reading it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading it is the movement in building the Church; in the third, the Gospel, it is the movement of confession. Journeying, building, confessing.

First, Journeying. “House of Jacob, come, let us walk together in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and you will be blameless. Journey: our life is a journey and when we stop it does not go on. Journey always in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.

Second, Building. Building the Church. Stones are spoken of: the stones have a consistency, but they are the living stones, stones anointed by the Spirit. Building the Church, the Bride of Christ, upon that cornerstone that is the Lord himself. Building is another form of movement in our life.

Third, confessing. We can journey as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing does not work. We will become a welfare NGO but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When we do not journey, we stop. When we do not build upon the stones, what happens? Everything collapses, loses its consistency, like the sandcastles that children build on the beach. When we do not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the words of Léon Bloy: “Whoever does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.” When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.

Journeying, building-constructing, confessing. But it is not that easy, because in journeying, in constructing, in confessing, there are problems, there are movements antithetical to the journey: they are movements that take us backward.

This Gospel continues with an important moment. The same Peter who had confessed Jesus Christ said to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let’s not talk about the cross. This is not a part of it. I will follow you in other directions, but not to the cross. When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like for us all, after these days of grace, to have courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the Lord’s presence, with the cross of the Lord; to build the Church upon the blood of the Lord, which was poured out on the cross; and to confess the only glory there is: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will go forward.

It is my wish for all of us that the Holy Spirit – through the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother – bestow upon us the grace of journeying, building, confessing Jesus Christ crucified. Amen.


Those are the words from the first homily of Pope Francis yesterday in the Sistine Chapel.

A few things struck me.

  1. He’s a talented preacher to do this off the cuff. We are in for some great homilies during his pontificate.
  2. He used down to earth analogies, such as sandcastles on the beach that get washed away.
  3. He used powerful, striking language. He said if we don’t confess Christ and put him at the center of our mission, we become a welfare NGO.
  4. He said we need to confess Christ with the Cross. And to his brother bishops – and through them to us – he challenged us by saying “without confessing the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord. That’s tough.
  5. I loved how he described that we are always moving. We are either moving forward in the spiritual life or if we’re just trying to stay in place we’ll regress. He implored the bishops and the entire Church to walk with courage proclaiming the Cross of Christ.
  6. The last thing was that he ended his homily calling on the Blessed Mother. I believe Pope Francis will be known someday for his Marian Devotion just like Blessed John Paul II was.

I can’t wait until his next homily at his installation Mass on Tuesday morning.

We’ll take a look forward at this Sunday’s Mass readings next. You are listening to the Good Catholic Life.

4th segment: Welcome back to The Good Catholic Life here from Rome. For our new listeners, we often try to end our week by turning toward the Sunday readings. Hearing them on Friday gives us the chance to reflect on them before we join our Brothers and Sisters at Mass on Sunday.

Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea
and a path in the mighty waters,
who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out and quenched like a wick.
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.

  • Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2013 (John 8:1-11)

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Now some reflections (courtesy of CatholicPreaching.com):

  1. Last week, Jesus preached to us the parable of the Prodigal Son, which stressed the Father’s undying love for his wayward child, the meaning of genuine repentance and the sadness of the older brother who couldn’t share his father’s joy. In today’s Gospel, that STORY (parable) about God’s forgiveness becomes REALITY, in the encounter of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery and with all the “older brothers” who were trying to get her killed rather than trying to bring her to mercy. Just as Jesus wanted us last week to see ourselves as the prodigal son, who acted as if his father were dead and squandered the inheritance of love, so he wants us to see ourselves in the woman caught red-handed. Moreover, just as the Lord wants us to recognize that often we can behave like the older brother in the parable who resents mercy given to sinful siblings, so, too, the Lord wishes us to drop whatever stones are in our hands and use even other’s sins as a reminder of our own.
  2. The Church gives us this reading on the fifth Sunday of Lent to remind us, first, of the horror and the just consequences of sin; second, of the incredible gift of God’s mercy; and third, of what we need to do to receive that mercy.
    The first big lesson in today’s Gospel that the Church wants us to grasp this Lent. Each of us is like that woman caught in adultery, whether or not we’ve been captured by others in the act of committing such a sin. In the revelation God gave us in the Old Testament, He revealed that every sin is really adultery, because it is being unfaithful to the covenant of love we have entered into with God. He referred to Israel as his adulterous bride, and, in some ways, each of us are part of that adulterous bride. Each of us merits to be stoned. But, as we see in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Christ laid down his life to make his bride holy and spotless. He, the only one who fully merits to be able to cast a stone, took the stones, the bullet, intended for us and died out of love so that his bride wouldn’t have to.
  3. Such great love is supposed to lead to three reactions on our part:
  • The first is to have a just horror for our sins and to recognize how deadly they are
  • The second thing is to come to receive his mercy
  • The third reaction is to stop judging others and begin to extend God’s merciful forgiveness to them

That will conclude today’s episode of The Good Catholic Life. For recordings of today’s show and all our previous shows, please visit our website, TheGoodCatholicLife.com.

We encourage you also to follow our daily blog from Rome which is also available at TheGoodCatholicLife.com and to view George Martell’s photos on BostonCatholicPhotos.com.

For our production team of Rick Heil, Dom Bettinelli, George Martell and Karla Goncalves, this is Scot Landry saying so long from Rome, God Bless You and Have a wonderful weekend!

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