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Apostolic Blessing “Urbi et Orbi”: Pope Francis’ first public words
Brothers and sisters, good evening!
You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one… but here we are… I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you! And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him.
And now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity. It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first – first I ask a favour of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.
Now I will give the Blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!
Perspective from the Piazza: Bishop Francis of Rome
The only problem with being in Piazza San Pietro for the announcement and presentation of the new bishop of Rome is that the cell networks and internet access all jam. Maybe I can reconstruct the impressions and my perspective from Rome tonight, as they came as pithily as possible:
[c.18:30] – just finished giving a conversational English lesson. Pretty sure there will be black smoke in half an hour. Maybe I should run over there anyway? Nah… I’ll just miss the smoke, it’s wet, and I’ve got work to do.
[c.18:50] – hm. I think Philippa Hitchen is on Vatican Radio, they should have the chimney on livecam. At least I can say I saw the black smoke ‘from a distance’ tonight if anyone asks. Heh heh.
[18:52] – a seagull on the chimney, says Msgr. Mark Langham on Facebook. Kinda reminds me of that ND game where the squirrel took to the field sophomore year…
[19:06] – working on editing a friend’s article. Smoke! Hm… looks pretty dark grey. Really dark… e’ nero? E’ bianco? E’ nero. Maybe go back to editing… ok, one last look. Still grey… hey, is that bell moving? [commentator: “looks pretty grey, but wait, the bells!”]. Elected on the fifth ballot?? I thought it would be tomorrow at the earliest! This is only one more than Ratzinger.
[19:07] – knocking on doors. “Habemus papam!” start ringing our bell.
[19:08] – I’m going down there, now. Anyone wants to join me, I’m taking a taxi.
[c.19:20] – five of us went, after waiting forever (five minutes) for some people to change. Halfway to the cab stand, three jumped on the 81. Alex and I got in a cab. At about 19.40, near Chiesa Nuova, we see a group from the Russicum walking by, and we decided to ditch the traffic and join them.
[c.19:50] – arrive in Piazza San Pietro, someone in the group knows one of the security guys and we get into the square, all the way up to the obelisk. I’m wedged between U.S. college students from New York, an Italian sister with a robust singing voice, three Eastern Catholics and a prolific contributor to the New Liturgical Movement.
[time ceases to have meaning]
Cardinal Protodeacon Tauran: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam!
People of God: wild cheering and applause
Cardinal Tauran: Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, dominum Georgium
Me: Giorgio? George… maybe George Alencherry, the Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop?
Cardinal Tauran: Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
People of God: Huh? Who? – polite applause, much checking of smart phones –
Me: Bergoglio? Which one was he? Italian? Pope Francis? Assisi or Xavier? or both? Can I be cautiously optimistic?
Overheard nearby: Francis? *shudder* That’s not good: All innovation is BAD.
Pope Francis appears a short time later, my impressions:
Hm. Almost nobody seems to recognize him. I remember being told the second election of 1978 was like this, the piazza was almost silent. Nobody knew Wojtyla, and they do not know Bergoglio, apparently. From Argentina, according to someone with web-access…
He reminds me of Papa Luciani, John Paul I, for some reason. Someone nearby says he looks like Pius XI. Simple, severe maybe, but simple. Am I smiling?
“Buona Serra”? Simple, good start…
“bishop emeritus of Rome Benedict…” how much better that sounds than Pontifex emeritus! Could we have an ecclesiologist pope?
His inclusive language seems to offend the more traditional minded among us…
That’s “bishop of Rome” at least three times now. Not pope, not pontificate, but bishop, bishop of Rome. Be still, my ecclesiologist’s beating heart! I think I really am smiling!
He seems so… humble. Almost awkward, these pregnant pauses, but I get the feeling he really did not expect to be there. Not an actor, not a professor… a pastor? A reformer? An introvert? Not sure what it means.
You know… Marini has not looked up from his shoes this entire time. In fact, he looks a little, um, how do I put this…
“He looks like he’s updating his CV, A.J., that’s what he looks like…”
I think he just said, “before a bishop blesses the people, the people should bless – that is, pray for – the bishop. so, I invite you to pray for me, as we start this journey together.”
“Buona notte!” – I cannot get over how refreshing his simplicity is, his somewhat akward honesty, and I do keep being reminded of Luciani. Francis, indeed. 😀
As we began to leave the Piazza, I ran into a Jesuit friend who supplied some details and reflections of his own: He’s Jesuit! He’s from Buones Aires. He said some very promising things tonight – his choice of name, the ecclesiological awareness of focus on the “bishop of Rome” rather than “universal pastor” or “supreme pontiff”, etc. But, a hesitation: “he brought some division to the Jesuits in Argentina; some see him as too conservative. Personally austere, yes, simple, yes, but we shall see”…
So, in summary: First Francis. First Jesuit. First from the Western Hemisphere. First non-European bishop of Rome in almost 1300 years (Gregory III from Syria). Chose a casual, informal greeting. Asked for the blessing of the assembly before he offered his own, and bowed to receive it from us. Clearly knows the pope is first and fundamentally the “bishop of Rome” (and the pope emeritus is really the bishop emeritus of Rome). He chose the simplest of the vestment options in which to appear (no lace, wooden pectoral cross) He will spend his first day visiting a shrine of Our Lady. He took his name in honor of Francis of Assisi, perhaps the most universally accessible saint we have, known for humility, care of creation and the poor, dialogue with Islam, and “rebuilding” a corrupt and failing Church. I think as we left the Piazza, most people still had no idea who had been elected – or perhaps they were just in a sort of joyful shock, the kind you get when something you have wanted for so long seems to be coming true, but you are not sure whether to believe it or not.
And, well, one of the guys I was with posted this when he got home tonight:
“Re, Sandri, Hummes and Kasper [sic] were on the balcony with him as he winged his way through the appearance. Traddies, get ready to bury your cassocks and black covered liturgical books in the yard.”
The first African pope? 1800 years ago…
I was about to start my own blog on the three african popes, because of all the attention being given to Cardinals Turkson, of Ghana, and Arinze, of Nigeria.
But then, i found this blog, and decided it was even better, because it came with a cool map showing the known or presumed birthplace for all known bishops of Rome outside of Europe. He even includes St. Peter.
I am still going to work on a quick post about the geographic distribution of the college of cardinals, and how it might better represent global Catholicism.
Map of Non-European Popes
Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign has taken both the Catholic and non-Catholic worlds by immense shock. Some have begun to play the game of “who will be the next Pope?” This game usually ends in a surprise no one saw coming but this does not stop people from trying over and over again. Some have speculated , as they did in 2005 right after the death of Pope John Paul II’s death, that there will be an African or Latin American Pope. Some even go as far to say there could be the “first black Pope in 1,500 years.”
I decided to study and map out popes born outside of Europe. There were some surprises among the results.
Of the 265 officially recognized Popes, 217 have been Italian while 17 were French and 13 were Greek (though this includes ethnic and cultural Greeks who were from Greek Italy and Greek Asia). So to solve problems like this I declared a non-European pope to be one who was born outside the modern understanding of what is Europe, regardless of ethnicity or culture.
Three Popes were born in Roman Africa, which today is part of Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. These African popes were Pope Victor I (189-199), Pope Miltiades (311 to 314), and Pope Gelasius I (492 to 496). These Popes are sometimes described as Black in today’s press because of their African origin. However, the elite in these provinces were descendants of Italian Romans while the population in rural areas were Berbers, who are an olive hue. There is no comparably or historic evidence that the African popes were Black.
Two popes, both ethnically Greek, were born in modern day Turkey. Pope John V (685-686) was from Antioch and Pope John VI was from Ephesus (701-705). John V is sometimes considered “Syrian” due to Antioch’s location in Byzantine Syria.
Four popes were born in “Syria”, modern-day Syria and maybe Lebanon. These are Popes Anicetus (150 to 167), Sisinnius (708), Constantine (708-715), and Gregory III (731-741). Anicetus was born in modern day Homs, site of heavy fighting in the on-going civil war, while the other three were born in newly Muslim conquered Syria. This shows that Christian intellectual thought and leadership were not crushed right away by the new Muslim rulers.
Two popes were born in modern day Israel, depending on who one asks. Saint Peter, the first Pope, was born in the village of Bethsaida along the Sea of Galilee while Pope Theodore I (642-649) was an ethnic Greek from Jerusalem. However, Bethsaida is east of the Jordan River in the Golan Heights region. This is Israel or Syria on depending one’s perspective. Meanwhile, the historic part of Jerusalem where Pope Theodore I was from is mostly likely in the part of the city east of the 1949 cease fire line and therefore either Israel or the West Bank.
So of the eleven popes born outside Europe, at least two were of ethnically non-European origin: Peter (Jewish) and Constantine (Assyrian). Up to three more, the Africans, may have been Berber. So between 0.75% to 1.88% of all Popes were of non-European ethnicity.
Some of these Popes played major roles while pontiff. Pope Theodore I worked hard and proved Roman supremacy over the Emperor and Patriarch in Constantinople. Meanwhile Pope Victor I was the pope who changed the language of the Roman Church from Greek to Latin. Without his change traditionalist Catholics would be lamenting the loss of Greek in today’s liturgies.
Soon the Vatican will announce there is a new Pope. No one yet knows who that person will be and where they will be from. However, now you have a better understanding of the history of non-European popes.
Original post from Geographic Travels.