Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Religious Pope - Sign from the Heavens

The election of the Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is of great significance in this age. He is the 34th religious to become a pope and the first Jesuit. ‘Religious’ is a typical catholic terminology to denote a person who is a member of a religious order or congregation. Although Jesuits are famous for their singular ‘fourth vow’ which declares the unconditional obedience to pope’s directives, none of them was ever made a pope. Jesuits are one of the largest religious orders of the Catholic Church serving in 112 nations on six continents.  The Superior General of the Jesuits is nicknamed ‘Black Pope’ being the supreme commander of ‘God’s marines’ and as the Pope always wears white cassock. The election of the Jesuit Cardinal as the new pope is a fitting tribute to the great contributions of the Jesuits to the Roman Catholic Church and to the whole world.
The last religious pope was the Benedictine Gregory XVI (1831-1846). When he was elected, he was not even a bishop. Apart from Pope Francis, among the religious popes there were 17 Benedictines, 6 Augustinians, 4 each Dominicans and Franciscans and two Cistercians. Benedictine Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great, 590-604) was the first religious to adorn the papal throne.
The choice of the official name as ‘Francis’ is a tribute to the entire religious in the Catholic Church. Though there were four Franciscan popes, this is the first time the name Francis, the Second Jesus, the greatest of all saints who is known for his spirit of poverty, is chosen by a pope. As a cardinal, Pope Francis was famous for his simplicity and spirit of poverty. Like Friar Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis will be channel of love to rebuild the Church.
The election of the present Pope is without any doubt a clear sign from the heavens. The Jesuit wisdom and leadership and the Franciscan love and poverty are going to make a dual impact in the Church and in the whole world in the coming days.