Posted: 03/14/2013 12:01:00 AM MDT
Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony
of St Peter's Basilica on Wednesday.
(L'Osservatore Romano, Getty Images)
None of us know what kind of papacy Pope Francis will have. But his history and his name give us some idea of what to expect. Those who know Pope Francis well say he is, above all, a pastor. That his love for the poor makes him a champion of social justice, and of protecting human rights and human freedom. In 2007, he said social conditions that lead to poverty "cry out to heaven for justice."
He has called for solidarity with the poor, for protection of the unborn, and for a return to true compassion — to living and proclaiming the truth in love. In 2001, he visited an AIDS hospice, where he washed and kissed the feet of dying men. That moment was widely praised. Less well known was his quiet and continued solidarity with the suffering, the dying and the lonely.
A pope's choice of name can speak volumes. His name recalls St. Francis of Assisi, the poor friar — the beggar — who renewed the church in the Middle Ages. St. Francis began his ministry when he heard the Lord call, "Rebuild my Church."
Today, and in every era, the church must be renewed. Today, Pope Francis has reminded us of the Lord's call to rebuild the church, but not by abandoning its doctrine or beliefs. It will be rebuilt by a renewal of spirit, a new evangelization that proclaims the great hope and joy which comes from friendship in Jesus Christ.
The ministry of Pope Francis will call Christians to greater service in love, to greater charity. It will call the world to justice. The ministry of Pope Francis will not be limited to St. Peter's in Rome. It will be a ministry which seeks — in obvious, and earnest — humility, to build a just world transformed by love.
For Christians, today is a day to rejoice. But it is also a day to take seriously our vocation. God calls us to humble proposition of the Gospel — to make our lives a living reflection of the Father's gift. There is no triumphal vanity in the visage of Pope Francis. There is instead authentic discipleship, and authentic love for God expressed in love for fellow men.
For all people of goodwill, the election of Pope Francis is an invitation to join the church in her works of charity, to live lives of selfless solidarity with the poor and with our fellow men. His election is an invitation to consider the Gospel message, which speaks of liberation, freedom and hope.
"The cardinals of the church," said Pope Francis Wednesday, "went to the ends of the world to find our new pope." From the ends of the world, may the church, and humanity, be transformed in justice and in love.
Samuel J. Aquila is Catholic archbishop of Denver.
Read more: Archbishop: Pope's name speaks volumes - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22784199?source=share_fb#ixzz2O1RCX4oc
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