Franciscan Insight: A New Pope from a New World

Paul Keggington

March 17, 2013

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora S.T.L., S.T.D. cand., Theology Program Director, Silver Lake College of the Holy Family shares her own reflection on Pope Francis, a new pope from a new world. 

13 March 2013 was not a “business as usual” day in the life of the Catholic Church. The election of a Successor to St. Peter as Bishop of the Church of Rome that, by the will of Jesus Christ, presides over the Church of Rome and the entire Church in charity, is always a moment of profound grace, a moment in which the Holy Spirit is powerfully present. It is normal, then, that everything all over the Catholic world come to a screeching halt to receive the grace offered to each of us in the gift of a new Holy Father.

This Pope is different, however!

For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, someone from the New World AND from the southern hemisphere has been elected to the Chair of St. Peter. We have a New Pope from the New World! If we remember that America includes North, Central and South America, we can acknowledge in all truth that we now have an American Pope, an American who is son of Italian immigrants to Argentina.

For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, we have a Pope who has chosen to be named “Francis” after the young man from Umbria who heard the call of Christ to rebuild His Church and whose only desire was to be totally and literally conformed to Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Francis of Assisi, in imitation of Jesus Christ, was a poor man who understood poverty (of spirit and in fact) to be key to the person and identity of Jesus Christ, key to our ability to reconcile with one another, and hence key to the establishment of fraternal communion.  Just as Jesus was Son of the Father, so for Francis the constitutive relationship of his life was with God the Father. Just as Jesus was poor in emptying himself, “taking the form of a slave and being born in human likeness” (Phil 2. 7), so Francis embraced poverty, enabling him to receive everything and every moment as a gift from God his Father and making gratitude the fundamental attitude of his life. The humility of Jesus’ self-emptying moved Francis to establish himself and those who followed him not only as brothers to all, but as minor brothers to all. Read more.


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