White Smoke, White Robes and A New Beginning

Pope Francis is the first Latino from North or South America to be elevated to the Office of the Pope

By Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: March 13, 2013

White Smoke, White Robes and A New Beginning

When I was in my twenties, I saw a movie called "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." The movie, made by Franco Zefferelli, was about the life and beliefs of Saint Francis of Assisi. The music, released only recently, was composed and sung by Donovan.

The film affected me tremendously. St. Francis, whose family was moneyed, gave up all of his worldly possessions, his inheritance from his family. This, in order to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. St. Francis confronted the Pope and the Cardinals when he was called to the Vatican by the Pope. He pointed out the discrepancies between the tenets of the Catholic Church, juxtaposed with the outrageous luxury and benefits that the members of organized religion enjoyed.

St. Francis affiliated himself with St. Clare, of the "Poor Clares." She was like-minded and lived a life of simplicity, humility and focused on aiding the poor and the needy. Their lives were dedicated to service to God and service to the masses.

Tonight, in Rome and in Vatican City, the masses gathered in the rain, looking up at sheer curtains that were alight from within. White smoke had risen into the darkening sky, indicating that a new Pope had been elected. The faces of the onlookers ran the gamut from anxiety, to prayerfulness, to hope and absolute faith. Faces now looking upward and forward--forward to opening windows and doors in the Vatican, to air out the mustiness of the past few years. To feel the cleansing, brisk breeze, carrying the promise of newness and movement. Just as the sheer curtains began to billow after movement from within the room.

Then, a man previously known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped forward onto the balcony and it was announced that he was now to be known as Pope Francis I. The new Pope stood there, apparently at ease, and simply looked at all of the gathered people. He evoked a sense of peace, an aura of sincerity and simplicity. He was serene. And he just stood.

Ultimately, when he began to speak, his words were not pompous or "fire and brimstone" in nature. He gave thanks for his elevation to this huge commitment, to his predecessor, and to the people who watched in St. Peter's Square and, indeed, all over the world. And he asked the masses to pray for him, silently.

It is said that, as Cardinal in Buenos Aires, this Pope shunned the use of a driver and a car, taking public transportation. He refused to live in the official home of the Cardinal in Argentina, living instead in an apartment. This man prepared his own meals, and fed the hungry at a soup kitchen. He washed the feet of the AIDS afflicted people.

Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants, has returned home. Jesuit trained, he is an educated man. A man of great breadth of knowledge and experience. Jesuits, generally, are more open-minded and accepting than other orders. Pope Francis, as a Cardinal, called out parish priests within his jurisdiction.

You see, the priests had refused to baptize -- refused to extend a Holy Sacrament -- to innocent babies of faithful unwed mothers. Pope Francis pointed out the error of judgment by those priests. And did not allow it to continue. He could have looked away, but he did not. Wisely, Pope Francis confronted the problem of human frailty and the disgusting judgment by a bunch of self-righteous men.

Pope Francis is exceptional in another manner. He is Latino! He is the first Latino from North or South America to be elevated to the Office of the Pope. At first blush, Pope Francis appears to be a true Renaissance man. Well-rounded, open-minded, educated in schools and throughout his life.

There is joy in the world tonight. There is hope in the world tonight. Here, on the West Coast, the sun still blazes as I write. I look forward to standing in the back yard tonight, just to gaze into the Heavens, to see the stars emanating the light they shed so many thousands of years ago.

Tonight, I will pray for us all, for the Catholic Church -- that it may be healed -- and for Pope Francis, that he have strength and the enlightenment from God to lead His people from the desert that we have wandered for far too long. That the Pope lead us all back to innocence, goodness, humility and faith.

Guadalupe Gonzalez(c)2013, Contributing Writer.

About Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Una Latina Catolica en La Ciudad de Los Angeles

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