I have adored seeing these shots with our Orthodox brothers. And I loved finding out that then Cardinal Bergoglio was Ordinary of the Ordinariate for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites in Argentina until his election to Pope. Now that would explain his more than just cordial relations with the Eastern Rite Patriarchs that were witnessed when he had his audience with the Cardinals. I listened to Vatican Radio English yesterday and they had an Orthodox seminary student who is studying in Rome and he was so excited to have seen the announcement in St Peter’s Square. He was exhausted he said, after a long school day when he heard the bells and debated going until he thought, when will I ever get this chance again. So he went and heard the name and he described a very exciting and brotherly atmosphere including some Italian men who explained to him what was going on. He felt as though Pope Francis, with his intimate familiarity of the Eastern Rite churches, was not only a great Pope for the Roman Catholics but the Orthodox as well.
And seeing this, at the Sign of Peace at the Papal Installation Mass gave me chills and yeah, I teared up. It’s something I never imagined seeing in my lifetime. Could we be nearing the time of seeing the Church breathing with both lungs, as John Paul II envisioned? Well, we’re certainly closer than we were any other time in history.
And to think I saw Jewish delegations and Islamic ones at the Installation Mass (including a delegation from Iran) makes me wonder, who is this man that all these people WANT to know him? And would risk sharing the same pool of oxygen to do so? His tenure in Buenos Aires shows he had positive relations with both Jewish and Islamic communities there. Who’d have thunk it?
Pope Francis is certainly showing himself to be more of, what he was referred to on the Vatican Radio program yesterday, A Pope For Everyone than I could have imagined. In his Discourse to Representatives of the Churches, Ecclesial Communities and other religions, he actually said,
The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – this I wish to repeat this: the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – this is attested evident also in the valuable work undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
So, we shouldn’t be hiding our light under a bushel basket, no we should be sharing it through friendly relationships with people of other faith traditions. And it will be exciting to watch as the various faiths of the world continue this Papal journey with Pope Francis.