Mt. Vernon Register-News


March 22, 2013

Much hope in Pope


The Gospel and the Sacraments are his mission and mandate.

We best welcome him to the international scene, and into our lives, as a teacher, pastor and father.

When I stood in St. Peter’s Square watching the white smoke and waiting for the Habemus Papam, I observed that the pilgrims gathered didn’t desire to see a favored candidate so much as they wanted a Holy Father. The new pope leading the crowd in prayer was a spectacle of quiet devotion, a reminder of the inner life that undergirds society.

I mention the Cuomos because their comments well illustrate the central challenge of our time: secularism.

Despite their status as a prominent Catholic family, they are advocates of legal abortion. Mario Cuomo is best known in this context as an early leader of a “personally opposed, but ... “ approach to the issue in political life.

It’s an outgrowth of surrender to secularism, a capitulation to the privatization of religion, even or especially among professed believers. But that’s not religion. Religion infuses life.

Religious people who truly seek to live radical lives of love and service make democracy and civil society succeed.

“The Lord brings about a change in those who are faithful to Him,” then-Cardinal Bergoglio said in an interview in 2007. He was talking bare-bones Catholic faith.

When he prepared to greet the crowds outside St. Peter’s, flowing out and filling not just the Square but also the Via della Conciliazione, there was an odd peace. Odd, because it was so countercultural.

Normally in cold, wet, packed crowds who find themselves waiting, there might be conflicts. Not anywhere I stood. It was as if that Holy Spirit the cardinals had said they would be conferring with had a presence outside the Sistine Chapel, too.

In that 2007 interview, Bergoglio said: “Staying, remaining faithful implies an outgoing. Precisely if one remains in the Lord one goes out of oneself.”

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