I was very happy about the selection of Pope Francis yesterday… The Church in Latin America is home to about half the world’s Catholics, and this papacy will be an occasion for us to focus even more on the importance of this population.
I was especially delighted at how he asked the people to bless him, and then bowed in silence to receive their blessing. That says a lot. This is a man who opposes clericalism, the idea that the Church is clergy and that all the power and grace of the Church resides in the clergy, who have more rights than others. That’s nonsense. The Church is the people of God – hierarchically ordered, yes, but nonetheless equal in dignity, and standing as brothers and sisters in Christ who saves us all. The Pope has signaled that from the first moments of his pontificate.
Some of our Priests for Life team was there in St. Peter’s Square to welcome the new Pope, and they kept me updated as I got on and off planes here in the USA.
Because Pope Francis is a man “of the people,” immersing himself in their lives, in their needs, and in the service of the poor, this makes him also especially sensitive to the poorest of the poor, the unborn. He has called abortion a ‘death penalty for the unborn.’
I am collecting now various statements he has made and signed on to regarding the topic of abortion, and will post links to them here.
The new Pope has served as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, where I served for some years at the Vatican. This is essentially the Vatican’s “pro-life office,” and the fact that he has been a member of it should be a particular encouragement to pro-life people.
Moreover, Priests for Life has done work in his Archdiocese in Argentina, recently establishing a Rachel’s Vineyard site there for our retreats for healing after abortion. Fr. Victor Salomon, our Director of Hispanic Outreach, had a key role in that, and, of course, he is very excited about this first Latin American Pope. Fr. Victor has had meetings with the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Latin America – an entity with which the new Pope has also been closely involved.
So we rejoice at the start of a new chapter in the life of the Church. Please visit PrayerCampaign.org to say the prayer I have composed for Pope Francis. You can also send him your own note of congratulations and your own promise of prayers for him on the form that you will find there. I will make sure our staff in Rome delivers your messages to the Pope’s office!