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First thoughts on Pope Francis
In my heart, I will always be Catholic. It is thanks to the Roman church that I found the rosary and the path to Jesus through Mary. I will not take this as an opportunity to speak ill of the Pope emeritus, but I will say that I was not sad to hear of his retirement.
I prayed for mother church, that the College of Cardinals would, this time, choose a Pope that is not schismatic, a Pope who would follow the mandates of Vatican II. I do not know if my prayers, and the prayers of many like me, have been answered. I do know that my first impression of the new pope was a good one.
I began weeping when his name was announced. When I heard the Cardinals say Francesco, my heart leapt and I began to cry that the new holy father had named himself after our Seraphic Father, who is the Angel of the Lord sent out to mark the faithful, as St. Bonaventure says in the Legenda Major. The words of our Lord to St. Francis of Assisi rang through my ears, "my son, rebuild my church." If this man will truly act in the spirit, charism, and with the guidance of our Seraphic Father, then he will truly be the Pope the world needs.
Change will not be easy for the church.
He has conservative views on abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality. He does accept the Orthodox teaching of the church that homosexual men and women must be accepted with respect and compassion, but he has opposed gay marriage, and even gay adoption.
He does support the use of contraception to prevent the spread of disease, which is very important for Catholics in Africa and the rest of the world.
He has been an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of the poor, calling for social justice in the world.
More telling, perhaps, is a comment that he made on the Aparecida Document, where he said that the church should have coherence in his opinion that Holy Communion cannot be received by people who act or speak against the commandments, "in particular, when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated."
If he means to think the Roman priesthood should try to withhold God's grace from those whom in their own eyes they should believe need it most, then I'm not sure he will be the change the church requires.
Only time will tell. I will pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and Seraphic Father Francis that he will be a wise and just leader, and that he will restore the Roman church.