(Image taken from Argentine News paper) http://www.clarin.com/europa/Iglesia-catolica-nuevo-Papa_0_881912011.html
The title of this blog may seem odd to some and before I begin I want to give my worldview because we all wear rose-colored glasses that affect how we see the world.
I am Argentine born to American missionaries for churches of Christ to Buenos Aires; I am a dual citizen. I am also a seminary graduate and former minister. My perspective is both Argentine and American. Culturally Protestant and also somewhat culturally Catholic because I grew up in the culturally Catholic nation of Argentina; 90% Catholic during the time I lived there. From an Argentine’s perspective the new Pope being Argentine is a BIG deal. For Argentina this is as big as winning the World Cup. For those that don’t know during the World Cup the whole nation stops working something that would never happen in USA. There is even talk of tomorrow being a holiday for Argentina.
As a Christian I understand that Catholicism is a part of the big picture of Christendom (See Image Below). To paraphrase one of my professors Dr. John Fortner “your faith rests on the shoulders of those who have gone before you and they were not all church of Christ,” i.e.: many of the Bible translators are not from my Christian faith branch. Because I understand that Catholicism is apart of my faith I would like to honor it.
I would like to honor the new Pope. He is someone who has tried to be humble. He has not taken up riches in comparison to other Cardinals. He has not used a personal driver instead using public transportation even at the age of 76; in Argentina you could drop your briefcase in a train or bus and it would never hit the ground during rush hour because of how packed the buses and trains are. He did not live in a luxurious place in Argentina instead chose to live in an apartment. According to Argentines he was approachable after mass and would stop and pray with individuals that stopped him to do so. He is noted for listening to others. All good qualities.
I commend him on his new name. If he is trying to imitate Francis of Assisi he is imitating someone who is known for getting rid of his riches to help the poor. Francis of Assisi is most well known from coming from a well to do family and in a counter cultural move took a vow of poverty renouncing his family’s wealth. Assisi did so to the point of taking off his robe in front of a priest to give it to the poor; this of course a symbol of his attempt to be like Jesus that did not take earthly riches. If he is trying to imitate Francis Xavier he is seeking to imitate a Jesuit missionary to Asia who studied under Ignatius of Loyola who was famous for spiritual disciplines. In many respects he is a brave man for accepting the title of Pope. He is the first Pope from outside Europe since the apostle Peter in close to 2000 years. This is a monumental change. He is also one of the few Jesuits to become Pope (need to look up the history on this). Let me repeat that he is brave.
Whether staged or not I would like to comment on the Pope’s first public appearance as Pope. Taking a moment of silence to listen; wise. Asking for others to pray for you is a symbol to me of vulnerability and admitting that you are not God; this is to be commended. In a time when most of the world is looking to praise him he did not appear to seek praise.
While I may not agree with Catholic theology I am hopeful that he can bring peace, justice, and a good name to Christianity. Whether I like it or not he is the most famous Christian in the world. I pray that he will represent my faith well.
Father in Heaven,
I pray for all of Christendom.
May we be Wells of Joy.
May we be People of Peace.
May we be Fighters for Justice.
May we be Restorers of Hope.
May we be Healers of Prejudice.
May we be Followers of Truth.
May I embody all of these.