Pope Francis’ heart for the poor
Patrick Novecosky writes that the new Holy Father know the poor from experience . . .
There is little doubt that the 115 cardinal-electors made the right decision on March 13 when they selected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 265th successor of St. Peter.
While I was in Rome during the conclave, the consensus among my colleagues and the clergy I spoke to was that we didn’t need another philosopher pope. Blessed Pope John Paul II gave us enough material for decades. We didn’t need another theologian pope. It will take a few generations to unpack Pope Benedict XVI’s work. What we needed was a dynamic, energetic, joyful pope who could be a magnet for the truths of the faith — someone whose words and deeds would show how attractive Catholicism really is.
After all the speculation on whether Benedict was forced to resign by outside interests, if we would have a “transitional” pope, and if we’d get a pope from the USA, the Holy Spirit didn’t let us down. Pope Francis is just what the Church needs. (Click here for a related story.)
The new Pope has made it clear from the beginning that he has a heart for the poor. The Church has always emphasized a special option for the downtrodden because Jesus taught that on Judgment Day, God will ask what each person did to help the poor and needy: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). This teaching is also reflected in Canon law: “The Christian faithful are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor.”
The Holy Father knows the poor, not just from scripture and Canon law, but from first-hand experience. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he regularly visited the city’s 20 or so slums, many just blocks away from luxury condos and modern high-rise office buildings. His ministry to the poor included hand-picking a group of especially faithful, dedicated priests to live and work among them, sharing the lives of the people down to the last detail.
As their cardinal archbishop, the future Pope not only established ministries especially for those who lived in the slums, but he regularly visited in person. He did this while also defending the unborn and denouncing the redefinition of marriage. Pope Francis has won the hearts and minds of people of good will around the word because he is making the Gospel tangible for us. By wrapping his arms around those the world has discarded, he has helped many Christians experience Christ for the first time. Let’s pray that the result is deep conversion.
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.