Church Life,  World View

Pope Francis – Ten Years

Ten years ago this evening, I sat watching the white smoke rise from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, indicating that a new Pope had been chosen. Millions of others around the world were similarly watching the news broadcasts with great interest and curiosity, wondering who this newly-elected Holy Father might be.

And then Cardinal Tauran, the Cardinal Protodeacon, came onto the loggia of the Basilica and uttered those words we all recognise – “Habemus Papam..”‘we have a Pope’. There was a momentary pause and then the name of the new Pope was declared – “Franciscus”. It was the first time a Pope had ever taken this particular name and it immediately conjured up images of St Francis of Assisi, the poor man who sought to rebuild the Church. How prophetic that would prove to be.

But which Cardinal had been chosen? Who was he? “Cardinale Jorge Mario Bergoglio”.

‘Who?’ asked almost the entire world, with a unified voice, closely followed by “from where?”.

Today, a full ten years on from that evening, we all know the Holy Father, Pope Francis. And he has lived up to the expectations which his regnal name suggested to us all.

For me personally, I love this particular Pope very much indeed. I see in him the first Pope, Saint Peter; and I see within him the authentic light of the Gospel, a light which shines out upon the whole world. He has taught me about mercy – often in his words, but very powerfully in the example he sets before us day after day. This man asks us to do nothing which he does not do himself.

In his papacy, I see the gathering strength of the wind which blew through the Church at the Second Vatican Council – that wind is blowing today as the Pope reminds us what the Council taught and as he shapes the Church to more closely reflect those teachings.

In particular, I think of his teachings on holiness and on the duty every one of us has to respond to that ‘universal call to holiness’ which the Council placed before us – his document on this theme has profoundly affected me and I give thanks for that, even as I see myself failing so greatly over and over in trying to do something positive with it.

But for me he is, above all else, ‘The Pope Of Mercy’. He called the Jubilee of Mercy, which the Church so deeply needed in that moment as it needs it now. He opened wide the arms of the Church to all people, reminding us that it is a field hospital for the sick, not a museum for the perfect. Just as well, since there are so many of the former and so very few of the latter.

Today, I give very deep thanks for this Holy Father, God’s gift to His Church in these moments of human history, and exactly the gift we need; blessed be God for this.

May God bless you always, dear Holy Father, and may the Immaculate Heart of Mary smile upon you now and always.


Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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