It all started when practically unknown to the Church in particular and to the world in general, there was this simple and humble, kind and lovable Cardinal from Argentina who was elected Pope unexpectedly and decidedly fast. And certain things immediately caught the attention of people. There was a white albatross that flew to Rome from the far ocean of Italy that particular evening and nonchalantly perched itself on top of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel which signaled his de facto papal election with a white smoke after the counting and burning of the ballots in his favor – according to century-old custom.
In the same way, surprisingly the new Pope did not want to wear the impressive dark velvet papal cope and neither felt comfortable with donning himself with an elaborate vestment when he blessed the thousands of people at the Vatican City Square anxiously waiting for his first papal appearance. Not long after, there was a pure white dove that flew and perched on the right hand of the man of God – who simply had himself called “Pope Francis” - when he was blessing the people outside the St. Peter's Basilica. Nothing miraculous perhaps but certainly intriguing.
So it is that after his election to the Pontificate, he formally and officially acquired all the following high and singular Titles of every Pope – whether he liked it or not: Vicar of Christ, Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Europe.
But not long thereafter, one curious thing after another came to fore – after he simply and plainly wanted to be called “Pope Francis”. Gradually but surely, it became known to many that while already a Cardinal: He wore simple clothes. He did his own cooking. He rode buses, trucks and trains. He paid for his own bills. He brought food to the poor and ate with them. He freely approached people and people freely approached him. He was a kind man. He was a good priest. He was an admirable Cardinal. He is a great Pope. He is a special gift of God to the world divided by ideologies, suffering from discrimination between wealthy and miserable countries, afflicted by fatal sickness one after another, torn by very deadly wars. Soon, the Time Magazine pronounced him Man of the Year – even but to acclaim his big popularity even among the secular media.
He seems to be in a hurry to reach out, to go and meet people from one country to another. All his formal and informal pronouncements are mostly about the goodness of God and the poor he earnestly invites the People of God to help, promote and defend. So it is that he readily went from country to country – without counting the cost to his age and strength. And sooner than later, he is coming to the Philippines! The Filipinos are eager to see his person, to listen to his teaching, to go as close to him as possible – just as he wants to go to people as close as possible.
MABUHAY – POPE FRANCIS!