Summary of today’s show: Wrapping up two weeks in Rome covering the end of Pope Benedict’s pontificate and the beginning of Pope Francis’, Scot Landry, Fr. Roger Landry and George Martell reflect on their experiences and on the moments and images that will endure with them. They also reflected on their participation in Pope Francis’ meeting with members of the media on Saturday and on his Sunday Angelus message in St. Peter’s Square.
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, George Martell, Michael Severance
Links from today’s show:
- George Martell’s photos from Rome on Flickr
- Scot Landry’s video updates from Rome on YouTube
- Acton Institute
- University of Dallas
- University of Dallas – Rome experience
Today’s topics: LIVE from Rome: Reflecting on the experience and on Pope Francis
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the final program from Rome which has been coming to everyone from there for the past couple of weeks. He welcomed George Martell and Fr. Roger Landry to the show. George has taken more than 3,000 photos over the past week and published about 1,000 in the past couple of weeks. He asked George what he’s seen.
George said his photos can all be seen at BostonCatholicPhotos.com. The most important moment was the Habemus papam. They’d had no idea it would be white smoke that night and were so surprised. They were wondering if it would be Cardinal Seán because so much attention had been given to him. The night was very rainy and they waited and waited and suddenly it was white smoke and people were celebrating and he will remember that moment most clearly. On Cardinal Seán, George had seen in the cardinal’s face that he could sense the weight that he was experiencing. George has been photographing the cardinal for six years and knew him very well. George said when he heard “Francesco” he thought at first it would be him, but when he realized it, he was very happy for him.
On the most enjoyable shot was when he was able to get fairly close during the meeting with the media and was able to get several shots of the Pope’s face. cot asked George’s first impression of Pope Francis, having taken so many photos of famous figures over the years. George said he’s very humble and there’s a sense that he knows what he wants to do. He laughs a lot and smiles a lot.
Scot asked Fr. Roger over the last two weeks and in anticipation of the Mass of inauguration tomorrow, what will stand out. Fr. Roger will remember when he came out on the balcony and asked us to pray to God to bless him and bowed over very humbly. Before that there were two other moments of silence—when his name was announced and then another moment was when he came out on the balcony and just stared at everyone. Fr. Roger said said the cardinals on the balcony didn’t know what was going on in the silence of the prayer and even the national media thought they lost audio when the 100,000-strong crowd was hushed.
Fr. Roger added that another memory was seeing how comfortable Pope Francis is and giving an example of how the reform of the Church will occur. What we saw with St. Francis of Assisi is that the reform of the Church began with individual men and women. Pope Francis is starting the reform in his own heart. He went to St. Mary Major to pray to Our Lady and emphasized the Church as more Marian than Petrine. Fr. Roger said the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar said the Church is more following Mary than Peter. The Church is virginal in her love for the Lord, loving God above everyone else. The Church is welcoming, like a mother welcoming all her children. The Church says Yes to God (“Fiat”). The Church leads to the New Evangelization, brings Jesus to others. The most important hierarchy in the Church is not the hierarchy of holy orders, but the hierarchy of holiness at the top of which is a woman, Mary. Petrine means Jesus founded a Church with a particular structure, but to have an effective papacy, we need holy popes, who have learned holiness from Mary. The Church’s reform is not just changing the heads of some offices, but begins by following Mary by being a faithful recipient of what is given and then giving that to the world.
Scot said Pope Francis ends each prayer by invoking Our Lady. He noted that Latin Americans have a special devotion to Our Lady. He asked if there is something particular about this devotion compared to the devotion of Pope John Paul II. Fr. Roger said the truths he just articulated are put into action by devotion. Marian devotion from one country to another has certain differences, devotions based on particular images or titles, but what matters is the person behind the image or title. He said for so many our relationship with Mary was affected by Pope John Paul’s deep Marian devotion. Our new Holy Father has grown in his Marian devotion through the example of John Paul. If you don’t have a great Marian devotion now, you can learn it from our present Holy Father as he learned it from our previous Holy Father. He said Pope Francis rises at 4:30am each day and prays all 20 decades of the rosary. His Marian devotion is also scripturally based and now recognizes more than at any time in his life how much he needs her.
Pope Francis isn’t trying to fit into a particular idea of the papacy, but is being himself and living the papacy as himself.
Scot asked other enjoyable moments Fr. Roger has had on this trip. Fr. Roger said he was moved by being able to celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s every morning. The first time he was celebrating Mass there because he felt spiritually orphaned because Pope Benedict had retired. But during Mass, he noted that he was surrounded by the great popes of the Church, 148 of them buried there. It was a comfort for him to realize he wasn’t spiritually orphaned. Then once Pope Francis was elected, to be able to go into the place where one day he will almost certainly be buried, to celebrate Mass for him through the intercession of his predecessors created a spiritual connection with him.
Scot said what stood out for him was being in shock on Wednesday night when the white smoke came. He’d thought it would be an awful night for white smoke because of the pouring rain and how difficult it would be for everyone. But then the rain stopped. Then the pope came out and no one really knew who Pope Francis was. On the following day when Cardinal Seán had a press conference with the media, in speaking with the cardinal briefly beforehand, Scot heard clearly how thrilled Cardinal Seán was at the election of Pope Francis. Then seeing Pope Francis be really comfortable with his sense of humor in the meeting with the media. It reminds him of how Cardinal Seán’s sense of humor endears him to so many. Scot said he loves what he’s already heard from Pope Francis who has a simple message. We’ve had brilliant theologians over past decades, and Pope Francis is also brilliant, but he’s been a pastor for so long, he connects with people as a pastor.
Scot said he’s realized how much he loves being a conduit for so many prayer requests from a number of countries and from around the United States. Many were for people who were ill or elderly or for family members or for the cardinals or for unique needs. He realized how many millions of requests the Blessed Mother gets asked to intercede for every day and gave him a new appreciation for intercessory prayer.
He’s also realized how effective blogging is as a communications tool and as he reflects on the past two weeks of writing on TheGoodCatholicLife.com and posting George’s photos, he sees how they have been successful in letting people know what it was like to be over there at this time.
Scot noted that there have been two significant events on the papal schedule since our last broadcast. The first was a meeting with the media. Scot and George and Fr. Roger attended. He asked George how important it was to have a smaller gathering of about 3,000 people. George said the intimacy was a plus. It was great to be able to see without having to look through a long lens. Looking at this face, you get a sense of what kind of person he is. He was able to see how humble he is.
Fr. Roger shared some of the off-the-cuff remarks of Pope Francis. He said Popes in this kind of meeting normally would thank the journalists for all their hard work. The pope would also give them some news, some information that was otherwise unknown to make their time worthwhile. This time he told them the story of how he got his name of Francis. He told them that when he reached the necessary 77 votes, his friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes came to him and said, “Don’t forget the poor.” He was saying that he could be the pope who helps the Church become more poor in spirit, like in the beatitudes, but also help the poor. That made him think of St. Francis, who was a man of peace and who was so close to poor. He also noted that Francis is the patron of Italy and it provides him a close to connection his diocese as well. He added that others told him he should have taken other names, like Hadrian VII, after Hadrian VI who was a reformer, or Clement XV, after Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus in the early 1800s, as a come back from Pope Francis who is a Jesuit himself. He is very funny, even though many people have said in profiles of him that he doesn’t smile. Fr. Roger noted that he was hugging many people at the end of the meeting.
Pope Francis also talked about the vocation of the journalist and said that covering the journey is different from covering other beats. You have to approach the Church through the lens of faith in order to understand. Journalists and the Church seek truth, beauty and goodness. The Church finds all those in Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, Pope Francis had his first Angelus as Pope. Popes typically have two public events per week, the Wednesday General Audience and the Sunday Angelus. George was able to be perched high on the colonnade above St. Peter’s Square. George said he was able to show the crowd through his photos. He said was able to capture the anticipation on the faces of the people for seeing the Pope. Scot said his sense is that about one-third of the crowd was seeing the Pope for the first time.
Fr. Roger said Pope Francis’ message was gratitude for his warm welcome and then deeper meaning of Sunday’s Gospel in that God is rich in mercy. He said God never tires of forgiving us, but we tire of asking God for forgiveness. So we should pray to never tire of asking. He also told a story of helping out with confessions and talking to an old black woman who wasn’t very well educated and embarrassed to be talking to the archbishop. But she told him how the world wouldn’t exist without God’s mercy and he replied to her that she must have been educated at the Gregorian University because of the holy wisdom she showed. It shows how God has revealed the important things of the world to the little ones, not to the “wise” of the world.
George ended by saying how much of a pleasure and honor it was to be there and communicate it all through his pictures. Fr. Roger said it’s been a real joy to be there to witness it firsthand and to communicate it back home. He said the good Catholic life is a life our new Holy Father is calling us to live and he expects to hear more about it tomorrow in his inauguration Mass. He’s very happy that our new Holy Father has started to walk us on that journey, asking us to follow him.
2nd segment: Scot was outside St. Peter’s Square and welcomed Michael Severance of the Action Institute to the show. Scot asked him to relate a story of then-Cardinal Bergoglio visiting the Rome campus of the University of Dallas. Michael described the moving encounter. Unfortunately, Michael informed Scot on April 4th that he mistakenly remembered the “Cardinal Jorge from Buenos Aires” that he met. Michael had met Cardinal Jorge Mejia, not Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. So we have edited the file and show notes. We (and Michael) apologize for the error.
3rd segment: Scot thanked everyone who has listened to the show over the past two weeks over the whole Station of the Cross network. The experience has brought him closer to God and he prayed the same is true for the listeners. Just a week ago, Cardinal Bergoglio was just a name and now he is our Pope. He is different in many ways. He is a man of the poor and wants to help those who are materially and spiritually poor.
Scot summarized the work they’ve accomplished in Rome over the weeks they’ve been there. He said a chronicle of all the coverage is available on the website.
On tomorrow’s show, Scot and Fr. Chris O’Connor will discuss Pope Francis’ homily at his inauguration Mass and on Wednesday, Scot and Fr. Matt Williams will discuss “Rebuilt”, a book about the change in a parish in Maryland. The Thursday show will return to a discussion of the news.