Fairfield’s president and faculty reflect on the election of Pope Francis.

“One of the most intimate personal and first decisions that a pope makes is to take a name,” said Fr. Ryscavage. “Benedict [XVl] picked that name because of his high respect for St. Benedict and the Benedictine tradition in the Church. So, surprisingly, a Jesuit picks the founder of the Franciscans and not the founder of the Jesuits. I have heard people say “Looking at that little chimney for two hours in the rain was absolutely worth it for even a minute of that excitement. It was definitely one of the best moments of my life,” said Lauren Birney ’14. Along with Laura Ballanco ’14 and Krista Charles ’14 (pictured l-r above in St. Peter’s Square on the day after the announcement), Birney was in Rome on spring break from studying abroad in London when the announcement of the new pope was made. Fairfield Universit y Maga zine | summer 2013 17 the name Francis is too humble to be a pope’s name. But humility seems to be the central characteristic of this new papacy.”

Dr. Lakeland said, “I agree with Fr. von Arx that Francis is a favorite saint and I wondered why no pope had taken that name before now. Francis was such a great figure; they may not have wanted to make a claim on that name. It would have a powerful ecclesiastical impact, and they would have to change their opulent lifestyle. Also, Francis was not a priest. He was made a deacon under pressure, but never a priest. He was a figure of humility. He felt called to reform things. For his time, he was a figure of what today would be called inter-religious dialogue. He talked to Muslims when others would have put them to the sword.”

Pope Francis’s personal humility and his eschewing of lavish comforts seems to be what most impresses non-Jesuits and non- Catholics alike.

President Barack Obama hailed him as a “champion of the poor and most vulnerable among us,” pointing to his earlier visits to a Buenos Aires hospice where he washed the feet of AIDS patients. His biographer Sergio Rubin has written of Francis’ humility: “He always wants to sit in back rows.”

His intellectual curiosity has also been duly noted, as has his love of reading, with Jorge Luis Borges and Fyodor Dostoevsky among his favorite authors. Adding to the complexity of Pope Francis’ story is the fact that he wasn’t ordained as a priest until he was 33.

As for why it took so long for the Church to elect a Jesuit pope, Fr. James Martin, S.J., a Jesuit priest and editor of America magazine noted in a blog post on CNN that nearly every aspect of Jesuit spirituality would appear to be in tension with such a high office — the vows of poverty, the lengthy training, the historical dedication to practical social work, and the promise “not to strive for” high office or special honors. But canon law, Fr. Martin noted in America, makes allowances for such appointments, and typically members of religious orders who become bishops or reach higher offices remain attached to their religious communities, and retire back into those communities.

St. Ignatius’ original objection to seeking higher office was in response to the clerical careerism so prevalent at the time, Fr. Ryscavage explained.

“St. Ignatius Loyola never wanted us to become bishops. Some exceptions were made in the mission territories, where Jesuits were sometimes the most qualified candidates for becoming leader of a diocese. At times, the Pope himself would intervene and promote a Jesuit bishop to the College of Cardinals. These were exceptions to the rule. St. Ignatius wanted to prevent us from ‘climbing the Church ladder’ by ambitioning high offices.”

Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Thomas Reese noted, “Although Jesuits take a special vow not to seek higher office, there have been scores of Jesuit bishops,” adding that there are unique qualities of Ignatian spirituality that may be good qualities in a pope. “There is also a practical side to Jesuit spirituality — if one thing does not work, try something else. This will also help [Pope Francis] as he faces the daunting tasks before him.”

Whatever direction Pope Francis takes the Church, there is no denying that the election of a new pope is a moment of historical import, even for non- Catholics. The office of papacy is one of the few offices in the world that can shape history and have a profound impact on the tenor of the times. Hence, the immense global interest in the moment when the white smoke rises from the Vatican chimney.

Fr. Ryscavage would be happy to see the Church follow Pope Francis’ example in his emphasis on solidarity with the poor.

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