On Feb. 28, 2013 Pope Benedict XVI formally resigned the post as Vicar of Rome, leaving the world pondering the future of the Roman Catholic Church. As monumental as the resignation of a Pope was, nothing prepared the world for the historic election of Pope Francis.
When the papal conclave began March 12, the whole world tuned into small Vatican City to wait for the new pope to be elected. While some prayed for direction, others prayed for a new emphasis on social justice in the church. On March 13, the conclave of cardinals officially nominated Pope Francis – the first pope from the Americas as well as the first Jesuit elected as the Vicar of Christ.
The election of Francis is beyond historic and a call for much excitement within the community of believers. Besides not being European, our pope is the first Jesuit within the history of papal authority. The Society of Jesus, sometimes referred to as “God’s Marines,” is a division of the church that emphasizes social justice through evangelization.
In his first days of office, Pope Francis has made purposeful decisions to not only teach the lessons that Christ gave to the community, but to live them out. In his native Argentina, Francis opted against using a chauffeured car. Instead, he sold the car and gave the profits to the country’s poor. He also chose not to stay in the luxurious residence of the Bishop of Buenos Aires, but live in a small apartment and journey to work on public transportation.
Not one to change his life based on his status, Francis and other cardinals rode to the Vatican in a bus rather than in limousines. There are many things to be excited about with the election of a new and relevant papal authority. I personally will be watching and praying for our new Vicar of Rome.