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20130317-151044.jpg ROME -- St. Peter's Square today looked about as packed for Pope Francis's first Angelus as it was Wednesday night for white smoke. The crowds spilled over into surrounding streets, and well up the Via della Conciliazione. (It didn't help matters that Rome has a marathon today.) They sang. They chanted. They cheered. They waved the flags of Argentina, Spain, the United States -- you name it. Comunione e Liberazione spread its enormous banner across scaffolding near the entrance to the piazza. Sant'Egidio's more modest sign hung nearby. When Pope Francis finally appeared in his apartment window at noon, the roar grew impossibly louder. As he did at his audience with the press yesterday, he spoke only in Italian (Benedict would read his address in several languages). And he spoke without a text (also a break with past papal practice).

"Good day," he began. The address continued the theme he's been sounding since the cardinals' pre-conclave meetings: mercy and forgiveness. Meditating on the Gospel passage (John 8: 1-11 -- "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"), Francis said, "This is Jesus' message: mercy. On my part, I say it with humility; this is the the Lord's strongest message: mercy. He himself said: 'I did not come for the righteous.' The righteous can justify themselves. Jesus came for the sinners."

"'Oh, Father,'" Pope Francis continued, relating what people often say to priests, "'if you knew my life you wouldn't say that.'"

"Why? What have you done?""Oh, I've done bad things."

"Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same. We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving us."

Underlining that theme, the pope cited the work of a cardinal whose name few were expecting to hear at Francis's first Angelus: Walter Kasper, "a talented theologian." Francis referred to Kasper's book on mercy, highlighting his point that those who experience mercy are radically changed by it. "A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just." And he joked that he wasn't in the business of doing "publicity for books by my cardinals." (Recall that Cardinal Kasper has not always seen eye to eye with the previous pope.)

Pope Francis closed his talk as informally as he opened it: "Have a good lunch!" Informality and spontaneity are emerging as other themes of Francis's papacy. Earlier today, he celebrated Mass at the Vatican's parish church, St. Anna's, where he delivered an ad-libbed five-minute homily, greeted parishioners afterward, and then -- striking terror into his security detail -- he took to the surrounding streets to greet the public. The AP reports that several people got close enough to clap Francis on the shoulder. I understand that since his election he's been popping into a local department store to pick up a few things here and there.

Modest dress, off-the-cuff homilies, impromptu public excursions -- this is a man who will not be handled. That must have a few curial mainstays quaking in their boots.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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Grant: This morning's NYTimes headline: "New Pope Puts Spotlight on Jesuits, an Influential Yet Self-Effacing Order"Hmmm...self-effacing? Not the phrase that springs to mind.

Margaret:Funny. True too...that is not exactly the phrase that springs to my mind either.But, with the election of every new pope (or in this case accent on the Bishop of Rome), behold I make all things new!

I really liked the "5 minute homily".

Speaking the Angelus and other prayers instead of chanting. Hmm. Chanting sounds good -- in Latin. I have a ton of it on my iTunes. But in English, it sounds goo-oo-oo-ffff-y. So priests who want to chant gravitate naturally back to Latin. And priests who like to pray in language God understands don't chant. Very interesting.

Did the pope pray the Angelus in Latin, which I believe all recent popes have done, not just Benedict XVI? Or in Italian? The latter would be a significant departure from long-standing custom.I have never heard the Angelus in Latin sung. It's just not done. There is no chant setting for it. The Regina caeli, which takes the place of the Angelus in the Easter season, has a beautiful chant setting. But even in that case, it has normally (always?) been recited in Latin, not sung, by popes at the Sunday noon gathering.

Thanks, John. I picked that up from a journalist nearby. But I'll remove it -- you're the expert. (And of course he prayed in Latin.) I appreciate the correction.

Francis is said to be "passionate about literature". Now consider my new mantra that the Humanities, including literature, provide the deepest understanding of human nature, Looks to me like Francis has a master's understanding of people. And all this publicity that shows him to be a maverick just might even be calculated to send a strong message to the curial mafia, "Don't mess with this guy".

What is the word that pops to mind about Jesuits? Smart!

At the Mass in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday and at this morning's Mass at Santa Anna, Pope Francis stood to give the homily. Popes (and some bishops) remain seated when giving the homily. Ex cathedra! So this is another welcome innovation on Francis's part. We'll see what happens on Tuesday, but given the highly choreographed nature of the occasion, he will probably sit. Though he may well prefer otherwise.

BTW, I always remember John Paul chanting (if that's the right word) the benediction at the Angelus, and just checked YouTube and found that was the case. Francis did not today as I recall. Part of the very different feel. Not saying better or worse, just different.

David Gibson:Yes, after reciting the Angelus, popes have always chanted the blessing. The same was true for the first blessing given from the loggia of St. Peter's after a pope's election. But Pope Francis on Wednesday said the blessing rather than singing it. Innovation? Or he can't sing well? Again, Tuesday's Mass will reveal a lot. So far his liturgical style strikes me as that of a good Vatican II parish priest.More than enough from me.

Doce Nos!! If you did not click the link of Francis greeting the parishioners, be sure that you do. Body language is everything. Often revealing what the words cannot convey. Francis of Assissi was adept at such actions as opposed to words. This guy just outdoes himself every day.

Margaret Steinfels: Perhaps the headline writers at the New York Times are not as familiar with Jesuits as you claim to be.The modifier in the headline modifies the order as such, not individual Jesuits.Now, as you may know, the Jesuit order was at one time suppressed by a pope. At a later time, a later pope restored it. In my estimate, the restored order has been careful, cautious, circumspect, reserved.In other words, the Jesuit order got burned big time when it was officially suppressed by a pope.Whether or not the headline writer knew about this history, he or she is not exactly wrong in characterizing the order as self-effacing if he or she means self-effacing in the sense of reserved and cautious and circumspect and careful.

Seems to be a lot more comments about how the Pope behaves than what he says. I personally am rather moved by the words he spoke about mercy as reported in this blog. But I must say I am interested in what he has to say because of his refreshing gestures and style. Words and action are both prophetic, I guess!

Regarding chanting. Francis didn't chant at the Mass in the Sistine Chapel, either. At that time some writers speculated that may not able to chant because one on his lungs has been removed. It's probably not worth attaching any meaning to the lack of chanting until we learn more about it

"That must have a few curial mainstays quaking in their boots."The ordinary life of lay people, even in the First World, is full of quakes: economic uncertainty, family upsets, bosses, clients, colleagues. And that doesn't even get into the things the plummet us to the basement (unlike in the clergy): addiction, adultery, fraud, deception--even our own.I don't take pleasure in thinking of the curia as quaking in boots. But like us, they can take heart in the message, if they're listening. That of course, is the key. Can we listen instead of preach?

What is the word that pops to mind about Jesuits?

Crafty! (the shadow side of smart?)


I agree with Francis' general trajectory. However, he does need to be a unifying figure. It is fine that there are differences around ecclesiology and after reading the linked exchanges, I am more persuaded by Kasper.Still, for a pope to seemingly pick sides when his predecessor is alive on a subject like that sets up a kind of competing papacy vision. I think he needs to be watchful that this kind of dynamic doesn't emerge.It is refreshing to see such impromptu displays. However, prudence is sometimes the wiser course long term.

THe Kasper quote is of great significance. Thanks for highlighting it here. It is of a piece with a number of stories I have seen that signal the deep missional-ecumenism of Bergoglio and promises a similar mindset for him as Pope Francis. I have detailed some of the extremely positive reaction to Bergoglio from non-Catholic Christians in this post: purposeful highlighting of Kasper will only add to the electric atmosphere surrounding his papacy among ecumenists of every confessional stripe.

After the train wreck of Benedict XVI it is important to signal a better direction,especially in ecumenism. BXVI tried to tame his insularity and better than thou church when he became pope. But it emerged as if he could not control himself. The worst would be for Francis to make the same mistakes. We need to also change the attitude and bury Charlemagne and ugly trappings of Empire.

the Kassper reference was intriguing -- can he bring Kasper back to the Vatican?he need not worry about contradicting his predecessor -- the changes he's already signalled have been warmly welcomed

Oooh! Aaah! He says hello! He greets people! He pays his bills! He walks! He takes the bus! He gives phone calls! Delightful, but... isn't it a rather sad statement on the state of the Vatican that we are so amazed that he behaves like a regular person?

Noting Cardinal Kasper??Maybe too old but ... We can all recall how long and hard it was for Lincoln to find a winning general. May Francis have a better fortune.

It is patently obvious that Pope Francis sees the papacy as "first among equals" style. Fr. K quoted an article by Marco Politi that made that point. His actions, including his first appearance, referring to himself as Bishop of Rome, has underscored that point. This is actually a bit counter-intuitive from what we might expect from Jesuits who historically have always been on the ultramontane side of the question.But, I think this is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it will lead to greater collegiality and decision making at the local level which is both more efficient and in keeping with the New Testament, pace Ratzinger. On the other, he was elected to deal with reform and part of that reform has to be how bishops and cardinals were involved in the covering up of criminal activity when it came to the abuse of children. We know that there is corruption in the leadership. If there is not one person with the authority to call them to account, how, short of having people elect bishops (not a bad idea), can it be addressed systematically?He does have authority with respect to the Vatican Bank and he can institute reforms in that area.Pope Benedict famously referred to the "filth" in the Church referring likening it to "a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side.Early days still, certainly and while these are encouraging signs, the basic work of moral reform needs to occur somehow. I am not sure that having if occur by osmosis in the sense of emulating his style and personality is going to be effective. Many of these interests are entrenched and require strategic and focused energy.

George D wrote: "Still, for a pope to seemingly pick sides when his predecessor is alive on a subject like that sets up a kind of competing papacy vision."But we have only one Pope.

Yes, and historically the popes have usually, at least rhetorically, spoke of how they continuing the work of their predecessor. Or, enhancing areas of teaching.They would never say or act in such a way, at least blatantly, of implying that their predecessor was moving in a direction that required correction.

Paul was not a pope, but he certainly was an apostle who on occasion opposed Peter. And some consider him co=founder of the Church of Rome (the city).

Flash: News of Papal Election Reaches Downton Abbey"

And Patriarch Bartholomew will attend the installation tomorrow; a first since the schism 1,000 years ago. According to the news article, this is a result of the increased dialogue between the two churches under Benedict.

"Flash: News of Papal Election Reaches Downton AbbeyRorate bemoans Francis' treatment of Msgr Marini, whose sartorial advice he rejects.Someone said it was like Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey insisting on dressing himself and throwing his newly-acquired valet into a funk. Rorate has gone off the deep end since the election of Francis.

Irene: a bad 5-minute homily is time spent in hell. A good 20-minute homily is but a brief glimpse of heaven.It ain't the time, it's the talent, without which there is no treasure.

Here is an AP article, headline "Pope explains name, urges 'church for the poor'". All of these words and actions indicate that this is a pope with the heart of a deacon.

Fr.Z makes this argument of the need for elaborate clothing and gestures in the Mass. The discussion about he right balance between the Mass as sacrifice and the Mass as banquet has been going on for a long time. I see it as "both...and", but his argument that the priest is actually being prepared as the sacramental victim goes beyond anything that I have ever imagined. I would be interested in hearing how he priests here see this. It will be intereting to see Fraincis celebrate tomorrow's Mass. "When I first learned to say the older form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, that is to say, when I first learned how to say Mass, because there has never been a single of day of my priesthood when I couldnt say it, I admit that I was deeply uncomfortable with some of the gestures prescribed by the rubrics. I even resisted them. For example, the kissing of the objects to be given to the priest, and the priest and the kissing of the priests hands that gave me the willies.I resisted those solita oscula because I had fallen into the trap of thinking that they made me look too important.The fact is that none of those gestures were about me at all. They are about the priest insofar as he is alter Christus, not insofar as he is John. For John all of that would be ridiculous. For Father, alter Christus, saying Mass, it is barely enough.When you see the deacon and subdeacon in the older form of Holy Mass holding, for example, the edges of the priests cope when they are in procession, or when you see them kissing the priests hand, or bowing to him, or waiting on him or deferring to him or what in non-Catholic eyes appears to be something like adoration or emperor worship you are actually seeing them preparing the priest for his sacrificial slaughter on the altar of Golgotha.It is the most natural thing in the human experience to treat with loving reverence the sacrifice to be offered to God. The sacrificial lambs were pampered and given the very best care, right up to the moment when the knife sliced their necks.The Catholic priest is simultaneously the victim offered on the altar. All the older, traditional ceremonies of the Roman Rite underscore this foundational dimension of the Mass. If we dont see that relationship of priest, altar, and victim in every Holy Mass, then the way Mass has been celebrated has failed. If we dont look for that relationship, then we are not really Catholic. Mass is Calvary.The use of beautiful marble in the church building, precious fabrics and metals for vestments and vessels, music that requires true art and skill to perform, ritual gestures which to worldly eyes seem to be the stuff of bygone eras of royals and the like, all underscore the fact that step by step during Holy Mass the priest is being readied for the sacrifice, which mysteriously he himself performs."

Pray. Robert Moynihan in the Addendum to his newsletter today tells us that, contrary to tradition, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, former head of the Congregation of the Clergy and the Pope's good friend, stood at Francis' right hand when Francis was elected and greeted his flock for thee first time from St. Peter's balcony. Moynihan suggests that this is might be a signal that the Pope is considering allowing married clergy. "Speaking to a Brazilian newspaper on December 1, 2006, Cardinal Hummes seemed to open the door to a Church reconsideration of celibacy for priests, saying, "Celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma of the Church. Certainly, the majority of the apostles were married. In this modern age, the Church must observe these things; it has to advance with history." "But in a statement released through the Vatican press office shortly after his arrival in Rome, Hummes noted that changing the rule "is not currently on the agenda of Church authorities." "Below the photo is an eloquent text by Hummes, published a few months later in early 2007, in defense of clerical celibacy."In other words, the powers-that-be insisted that Hummes in effect retract his original statement But now it seems that Hummes is in great favor with the ruling pontiff. Add to this Francis' recent statement about Cardinal Kasper as a good theologian, and one must wonder if the clouds over the Vatican are finally beginning to disperse.

" --- popes have usually ---"That may become a clause (phrase?) that has no value in this papacy.

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