Pope Francis and the Call to Tenderness

Novalis’ Publisher Joseph Sinasac recently invited Sabrina Di Matteo, Director of Campus Ministry, Centre étudiant Benoît-Lacroix and President of Communications et Société (a partner of ARCCC), to share her personal experience of today’s installation Mass.

 ROME – The silence is striking. How can a crowd of 300,000, spilling from St. Peter’s Square onto Via Della Conciliazone, be suddenly so quiet and prayerful? Such is the atmosphere that unique events inspire, like today’s Mass for Pope Francis that celebrates the inauguration of his “petrine” ministry (from “Peter”) as bishop of Rome.

I’m privileged (blessed even!) to be here in Rome, with the accompanying delegation to His Excellency Mr. David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. And while the sun warmed the crowd, a snowstorm back home in Montreal reminded everyone it’s still winter.

Here in Rome, it feels like spring is just around the corner. We’re honeymooning with a new pope whom we’re just beginning to discover. Many have noted his simplicity and warmth: he wears liturgical vestments without fancy gold embroideries, is a friendly communicator, and payed for his own hotel. He received the pallium today, a white wool cloth symbolizing the shepherd and his flock, as well as the fisherman’s ring (in gold-plated silver), engraved with St. Peter and the keys.

True to his style, Pope Francis preached simply and inclusively. His homily focused on St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrate on March 19, and started by reminding us he’s the namesake of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – Joseph Ratzinger.

Drawing on the figure of St. Joseph as protector and servant of Jesus and Mary, Pope Francis said this mission is also the same for the bishop of Rome, the Church and of all humanity. “Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.  (…) he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”

He called on the Church and the world to protect creation, the environment, and the poor and frail. “We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!’’ Loving one another and showing tenderness is what shines hope in the darkness.


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