This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis – in many ways an historical milestone- the first Jesuit to be elected Pope; the first Pope from the Southern hemisphere; the first Pope to carry the name Francis.
Pope Francis is the first Pope to be ordained a priest after the Second Vatican Council – his entire life as a priest has been in the post—Vatican II Church.
Pope Francis is not born and bred in a euro-centric Church; Church experience for Francis is the Church of the South.
Two of the many gifts that Francis brings to the Church: a spirituality grounded in the mercy of God and a Church defined by synodality.
In the Old Testament God is described and named by the two Hebrew words hesed and emet. The words mean “merciful fidelity”. When Jesus tells his disciples to be “holy as the Father is holy” he is telling them to witness to the mercy they receive from the faithfulness of God. God’s holiness is God’s mercy. The disciples are to show mercy to others as God has done to them. Francis says “in human relationships mercy trumps justice”.
Synodality is the virtue that best identifies and defines the Church. Synodality is the quality by which individuals listen to each other and institutions listen to each other. The listening is inclusive, the voice of no one is excluded—especially the marginalized and the ignored. This listening is not primarily a physical experience; it is as Saint Benedict teaches, “listening with the ear of the heart.” It is in this “listening” that one can discern the presence and will of the Holy Spirit.
Let us give thanks for the gift God has given us in Pope Francis.
Fr. Steve Adrian