The signs are as unmistakable as they are stunning; Francis has returned to rebuild the Church. The first New World Pope, who happens to be the first Jesuit Pope, has taken the name of Francis. It didn’t stop there. St Francis known for his miraculous ability to communicate with God’s creatures may have sent a sign. It seems a stubborn seagull kept landing on the Sistine Chapel smoke pipe a couple of hours before Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the very modest living prelate from Argentina was chosen.
About the name Francis, could it also be for Francis Xavier the famous Jesuit missionary to the Far East? Who knows for sure but perhaps it is a very deft touch by the man from Buenos Aires. In addition, was it not a Franciscan Pope (Clement XIV) who famously suppressed the Jesuits in France in the 1700s, which many believe helped the radicals of the French Revolution in their bloody but unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Church? Another sign; perhaps a nod to reconciliation? The Conclave began on March 12, the day both St. Ignatius (founder of the Jesuits and St Francis Xavier, perhaps the second most famous Jesuit saint) were officially canonized in 1622.
The Church needs simplicity in so many ways, in her liturgy and devotions, in her governance etc, who better than a man who chose the name Francis to accomplish these important tasks. St Francis a gifted man was told by Jesus to, “Rebuild my House,” as already in the earliest days of Europe’s revival following the Dark Ages, some in Europe’s most prosperous country where already forgetting about God’s importance in their lives. Their material and secular excess seems a mere pittance by today’s standards. However, it was serious enough in St Francis’s eyes to do exactly as our Lord had asked.
In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I note that the best administrators were often conservative Jesuits. This came from not only my diocesan experience but also my Catholic schools experience. Unfortunately at that time conservative Jesuits were few and far between. They seem to be a growing lot and perhaps this papal election will restore the Jesuits to their once lofty Church heights.
I was trying to digest all of this info while driving to the store. While in the car I heard something on talk radio that put the perfect exclamation point on the day. I don’t know whose show it was but a young man called in saying though he was an Evangelical, he never felt more moved by the Holy Spirit than this week. He said he was in awe of the Catholic Church’s history, beauty, structure, teaching authority etc. He said it all and in so doing gave us all hope that Pope Francis was already rebuilding God’s house.