Pope Francis I formally commenced his papacy with today's instillation Mass at St. Peter’s Square where he continued to emphasize the broad themes of humility and service to the poor.
“…Tell us about this inaugural Mass. There was a lot of talk about simplicity and protection. He mentioned the environment a lot.” Ingraham prompted.
“Well he…mentioned creation. It’s being sort of spun in some of the media accounts as ‘the Pope insists here clearly talking about protecting the environment.’ What he spoke about was protecting creation. He said we all have to respect creation. And he said it means respecting each of God’s creatures, respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people.” Arroyo responded.
“And then he went on to talk about families and children and the elderly. This is all being conveniently edited out. Look, Pope Francis is continuing a line of thought advanced by Pope Benedict – brilliantly I thought when he did it. Pope Benedict of course was the first pope to put the solar panels on top of Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.” Arroyo continued.
“He planted trees to offset the carbon footprint of the Vatican City and people said ‘look he’s a green pope.’ And indeed he is and was and here’s his point. He was making the argument that yes we have to protect all creation and that extends to the frail elderly, the unborn, children –”
“He didn’t mention the unborn though. He didn’t mention the unborn, but maybe there’s a message –” Ingraham interjected.
“Well he did mention children. He said especially children and every person. We have to show love and concern for every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need who are often the last we think about. So, I mean it was…certainly an indirect mention of the unborn children, but I think it’s all in that message. And we know Cardinal Bergoglio in his previous incarnation as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires was very outspoken about the family, protecting children, obviously pro-life.” Arroyo replied.
“And the other thing, the real stunner from La Stampa today, the Italian paper, is the interview with the Pope’s sister. [She] says look Jorge, her brother who’s now the Pope, is opposed to all regimes because their parents apparently fled Italy due to the fascism and that that sort of inoculated this pope against these regimes and dictatorships. And he’s very allergic to the idea.” he maintained.
Arroyo went on to reference then Cardinal Bergoglio’s clashes with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of his native Argentina over social issues like same-sex marriage before drawing attention to the simplicity of Pope Francis’ homily this Tuesday.
“…It was casual. It was simple. It was almost – as one of the priests…with me said – it was like a parish sermon. He kept repeating the same themes about protector, protector, protector. But it wasn’t a theological discourse as John Paul or Benedict would have given. But this is a pope moving things in his own way and perhaps there’s wisdom here.”
Ingraham and Arroyo concurred on this point, with the EWTN anchor suggesting, “…I think the audience may not be ready to hear that deep theology and they need this simple message to cut through. I think that’s what he’s doing.”
“And I think again the idea of protection; it goes to the Catholic Church’s own abuse scandal. He’s clearly giving a nod to the need to continue to be vigilant and address the horrors of that, address the horrors of what we do in the culture, in the womb, in how we portray people in society. How we cast off the undesirables, the elderly and the youngest. I found that to be very moving. I really did. And I think that’s going to speak to people.” Ingraham said.
Hugh Hewitt with Charles Chaput
“I was invited by Pope John Paul II to a gathering in Rome of about 120 bishops to discuss the future of the Church in…North and South America back in 1988. I had just been appointed the Archbishop of Denver at that time. And the Holy Father, Pope Francis, had just recently been appointed the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And we sit at those meetings in the order of our appointments, and so we were in the same row.” Archbishop Chaput explained.
“And in the course of that month in Rome I had a chance to listen to him, and to have some personal exchanges with him, and express a common kind of spirit and enthusiasm for the future of the Church. So I was really blessed to have the opportunity to be with him for a month. And I knew him from then.” Chaput added.
Hewitt then encouraged the archbishop to give his audience a sense of the personal style of Pope Francis and his intellectual approach to issues.
“…I don’t want to overstate my personal relationship with him. That was a long time ago, and we were there just for a month. But right from the beginning I sensed that he was a man who was impatient with formalities and very much anxious to be part of the new evangelization, which is to admit the fact that we need to do things differently than we’ve done in the past and to understand that many people who profess themselves to be Catholics or Christians really aren’t in any real way committed to what their baptism should mean.” Chaput offered.
“He was aware of the fact that although South America – his own country Argentina – was heavily Catholic by percentage points, it wasn’t as heavily Catholic in terms of real belief and lives that flowed from belief. And so the new evangelization really is a re-evangelization of people who think they’re Christians but really aren’t.” the archbishop said.
“And he understood that and had a great energy in that direction. And as I said, [he] was not patient with formalities that got in the way of being busy about the work of the Gospel. I think he’s already shown that in his time at Pope too. He seems to be impatient with formalities and very much anxious to personally embody and then preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Hewitt with Father Joseph Fessio
Hewitt also spoke with Father Joseph Fessio of the Society of Jesus on 990 AM WNTP on March 14th. The two briefly touched on the fact that the ascendancy of Jorge Bergoglio marks the first time in its history that the Catholic Church will be led by a Jesuit and discussed how Pope Francis might compare with Pope Benedict and John Paul the Great before turning to the issue of reforming the Roman Curia.
“And by reforming the Curia, explain to an audience that does not follow the Vatican, what does that mean?” Hewitt pressed.
“…Now there’s been a lot of talk in the media before the election, the Roman Curia is dysfunctional. Curia means court in Latin, but basically it’s all the different offices around the Holy Father for doctrine, for worship, for bishops, for priests, those sorts of things, and the secretary of state, which handles all kinds of materials, especially relations with other governments, and the Vatican bank.” he elucidated.
“Now I make a distinction. I think there are many fine people that work in those curial offices, and there are several of those what they call dicasteries or departments so to speak, which are doing wonderful work. For example, the Congregation for Bishops, which here in California we have seen in the last two or three years has appointed extraordinary bishops.” Fessio praised.
“Yes.” Hewitt responded.
“But there has been some dysfunction it seems to me in parts of the Curia where the Pope isn’t running the show. It’s sort of all these subordinates who are doing their own thing and kind of going around the Pope. So one of the theories about Benedict retiring was not just that he was weak, because he was. He was frail. But he saw that under John Paul II when John Paul II was not as strong as he had been in his younger years that these bureaucratic subordinates were taking the reins into their own hands. And Benedict did not want that to happen. So basically I think we’re going to have a better functioning set of supporting administrators with the Holy Father.” Fessio speculated.
Hewitt then turned the conversation towards economics.
“… [Pope Francis is] very adamant about how wealth ought to be used. But does he know how wealth is created? I’m always worried about whether or not priests understand economics. What do you think?
“I think he’s tops on that because when he was provincial in Argentina liberation theology was just getting its momentum. And they wanted to help the poor by Marxist violence and overturning society.” Fessio noted.
“He put his foot down on it. He [said] no. He [said] we must help the poor. We have to change hearts. We have to work in parishes, work in the system we have. And…he criticized liberal capitalism and bankers who had no heart, but I believe he is quite strong on the free market and the creation of wealth by initiative and creativity and entrepreneurship.” the archbishop surmised.
“Oh that’s reassuring.” Hewitt remarked.
“At the same time, he wants to live a simple life, which is good.” Fessio offered.
“And he’s encouraged people who have wealth to use it responsibly – very important distinction.” Hewitt concluded.
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