The election of the cardinal of Buenos Aires, Argentina as the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, took millions by surprise, but the parson has an exceptional personality. The new pope’s persona stands out clearly in many ways than where he actually comes from or country and continent of birth. At the time when the church is at a tight spot, and needed someone special to pilot and police its faithful, nobody ever thought it could be Cardinal Bergoglio.
The surprise mixed with suspense was so conspicuous that commentators giving live coverage of the event at the Vatican lost words. Silence, silence was observed as if to say a minute of silence in honour of someone who has passed away was called for. Never a favourite Pope Francis I who has kept a low profile lifestyle but a big personality, emerged from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica with a beaming smile to neutralize the silence and surprise with assuring, moving words of wisdom.
The name might have been unheard of to many outsiders or difficult to pronounce by others, but the little known cardinal stood tall and command authority and strength in front the cheering and flay-waving crowds. While enthusiastic and euphoric worshipers were screaming and waiting for his first blessing and first prayer, the Pope instead invited them to join him in prayer. As if to say, pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, pray for the church, pray for the challenges ahead and pray to God to lead the church through his papacy and person.
Only a man of decorum and humility will start his papacy by putting God and the people first, before looking at the crown he has just been given to carry as head of the world’s most powerful Christian Church. At 76, Pope Francis who finally broke the jinx of a pontiff outside Europe is no stranger to the number of problems facing the church from the sex abuse saga to female and gay priests. With his love for Jesus Christ and the oath taken to remain poor as a Jesuit, the pope would understand the situations of many Catholics, especially with the general economic hardship that is rocking many homes as well as their trust and faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Election not by default
Prayers can move mount, and when millions of people join hands to pray for the same purpose miracles do come knocking even in broad daylight. The election of a pope from Latin America is not a twist of fate or misnomer, especially to Christians with strong faith and belief in the teaching of the Holy Book as well as the doctrine of Catholicism. His predecessor, Pope Benedict took the world by storm by opting to resign, the first in 600 years, and thus, a choice of a new pope obviously was going to be an even bigger surprise to keen observers.
As a runner-up in the election that saw Pope Benedict took over the throne after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, he must have been the name in the minds of most of the cardinals at the papal conclave. If some of them doubted his competency and spirituality, after another day of prayers following a failed first shot to vote a pope on Tuesday, only God had powers to reveal to them by vision who was that right candidate. The very prayers which Pope Benedict quitted his post to concentrate on praying, are the very prayers which most of the crises of the church are expected to be resolved through them. With a compassionate approach to preaching and teaching par excellence, Pope Francis I fitted his new post.
His humility and open method to challenge governments that have failed to toe the line or bother to tackle the problems of people, especially those of poverty, social injustice, human rights and hunger in the world of plenty, would be welcomed in most developing countries. A spiritual leader of the people, especially the poor and hungry, Pope Francis is expected to bring in more surprises into the church as his election was full of surprises. From a moderate background with a humble attitude towards humanity the broken pieces of world peace could be put together only by a man of his calibre. If catholic Christians have actually being praying for a leader that would pull them out of the sea of trouble waters, then Pope Francis is just the Good Samaritan to offer them a helping hand of God just in times of need.