Monday, 18 December 2017

Our humble leader with human touch

HABEMUS PAPAM. Just a week ago we saw the white smoke coming from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel. After

HABEMUS PAPAM. Just a week ago we saw the white smoke coming from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel. After five ballots, the College of Cardinals had made their choice. Then there was a wait of about an hour before the announcement was made.

Cardinal Tauran gave the announcement in Latin: Jorge Mario Cardinal of Holy Roman Church Bergoglio. The reporters and all of us were looking down the list. He was not one of the “favourites” and the reporters couldn’t get his name, although it was there in the Latin text — Francis.

And what an effect he has had. A humble and gentle man who, when he was archbishop in Buenos Aires, lived in a small apartment, cooked his own meals and travelled on public transport.

The Catholic community of Henley rejoices and we have been very touched by the many words of encouragement and assurances of prayers we have received from our fellow Christians.The whole thrust of Francis is that “The Gospel is to be preached” to the poor, not just those who have not material possessions but those who are spiritually bankrupt, who have no purpose in life but to seek their own pleasure and the pursuit of material things.

He really has the human touch. Like insisting on calling at the Clergy House where he stayed before being elected and paying his bill! Like greeting the cardinals as “brothers”. Some of the pomp has gone but in the meantime the true meaning of the message of Christ emerges triumphant.

We pray for him, we pray for the Church that its mission endures and flourishes. We remember, too, Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, who was enthroned yesterday (Thursday).

May the two leaders bring the message of peace and joy and love to a world that desperately needs it.

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