Obviously, I can't tell you anything that would actually be considered news. I guarantee any info you find here in this post is hours old and has already been repeated ad nauseum. (Like that? In honor of an historic day in the Church, I threw in a little Latin, just for you.) As for the rest, it is merely my thoughts and opinions on the day, in the midst of thousands of other thoughts and opinions about the same thing, but stated better. In other words, you may want to skip this post unless you really have nothing better to do. I wouldn't add to the noise, but I figure that I want to be able to look back on my thoughts and feelings on a day like today. I know I wish I could look back on my thoughts when Pope John Paul II died and Pope Benedict was elected. But I can't because I wasn't cool enough to have a blog or even know what a blog was back then.
In 2005 one of my favorite things watching all the coverage was to see how people from all over the world were affected and how this Church is bigger than my parish and my country. It was a reminder that the Catholic Church is for everyone, and here were people from everywhere being caught up and affected by the things that were affecting me.
Today, I think the thing that strikes me the most is the old and the new. This is a Church that is ancient and ever new. Ancient customs such as the conclave and the smoke, but new ways of making it more obvious. An ancient office of the papacy, yet the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit, the first Francis. The one thing that encapsulated this whole idea for me more than anything else are the two words: "Latin tweet". When I first saw the report that the papal twitter account had tweeted, "Habemus papam Franciscum," it struck me as almost absurd, and yet so completely, deliciously awesome. An ancient announcement, words that have given Catholics a thrill of new hope for many centuries, now on Twitter. LOVE it. Ancient and new.
I knew nothing about Pope Francis as a cardinal, but what little I have heard so far, I love. Initially, it's a strange feeling. When Pope Benedict was elected, it didn't feel quite right initially, but Pope John Paul was dead, so it was clearly needed. Today, my brain and my heart had a bit of a hard time accepting that Pope Francis truly is the pope, because Pope Emeritus Benedict is still alive. (Is that the proper terminology??) And yet I am excited that he is our new pope. Most of the controversy that the media was already trying to stir up was either expected (I mean really, are you surprised that he was against abortion, contraception and gay marriage in Argentina?) or of the stuff that is easy to criticize looking back with pieces of information but without the whole story.
I think everyone is struck so far with his quietness, simplicity and humility. I hope they don't take that to mean that he'll be a soft touch! I think they're in for a surprise if they think that's the case. I truly love how much social justice is such a big part of his heart. I think it's a part that has somehow gotten separated from solid doctrine and theology, but it is what solid doctrine and theology should lead to: love of God and love of neighbor. I think he is a pope that will challenge us to new places in bringing these things back together as he helps to rebuild the Church.
I know that none of the popes have been perfect, either before or after becoming pope. I know that Pope Francis will be the same. But I do believe that he has a servant's heart, and that is likely the only reason that he responded to this call; in order to serve. I have already heard a number of naysayers discussing various points of discontent, particularly that they are "afraid it will be more of the same". (*Snort.* Ya think? With all the "firsts" about Pope Francis, he's still Catholic!) I have heard some blow off the conclave and "politicking" and "smoke and mirrors". I won't deny all politicking, but I would bet that those that have that impression would be surprised at the amount of prayer and silence that goes into it. It is nothing like a political election. The pope is not someone that "won" after a campaign, but rather someone that responded to the call when he was asked to take the position. I'd bet money there's a large part of him that would rather be headed back to Argentina next week.
Anyway, that's a lot of rambling. I wish I had a prize for you making it through all of that!