Last Saturday, Dec. 17, Pope Francis celebrated the occasion of his 80th birthday. We, of course, all should pray for a happy, healthy, and holy long life and ministry for our Holy Father. At a time in his life when most of his peers are well into their “golden years,” Pope Francis is keeping an intense schedule that could make strong, healthy men and women in their 20s gasp for air!
We have been blessed with this Holy Father. Upon his election, he ushered in a new style of papacy, in a new age. This is a pope who gives press conferences on airplanes, who preaches his weekday homilies, by and large, without notes, and who is not concerned about the dangers of going to the peripheries.
This is a pope who is deeply concerned with encounter, one who wants to meet people where they are and who wants to bring them where they should be, namely close to the Lord.
This is a pope whose vision of the Church is that of a people in “cammino,” on a journey. And to where does that journey need to take us? Ultimately, this cammino is to the Kingdom of God.
This is a pope who truly recognizes that there are things in the world, things that are non-negotiable, that there is a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do and that there is a difference.
However, in his comments about teaching seminarians to discern the “grey” in life, he is recognizing the fact that we live in an imperfect world and we need to practice this art of accompaniment, leading people gradually to the fullness of Christian life and union with the Church.
We need to pray for the pope, even if we do not fully understand at times the decisions he is making. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding him and the Church as God wishes at this period in history for the salvation of souls.
As St. Josemaria Escriva tells us: “You must love, venerate, pray and mortify yourself for the Pope, and do so with greater affection each day.”
Francis is our pope and he is a gift to our Church.