A new era for the Catholic Church dawned this week as Pope Francis began his first day as Holy Father on Thursday. This morning, Pope Francis meets with the College of Cardinals, the group elected him, and those cardinals over the age of 80 who were not involved in conclave.
Many have speculated the direction in which the new pope may lead the church, and his first mass yesterday gave some clues. In his homily, Pope Francis hinted at the church's struggles and delivered a strong message to the cardinals: Reject worldliness, be true to the gospel message, and rebuild the church on a strong foundation...or it will come down like "sandcastles on the beach."
Father Thomas Rosica is the Vatican's Deputy Spokesperson. He knows Pope Francis personally and shares his insight on the Holy Father’s first days in office. Father Rosica says Pope Francis is just continuing to perform as he did as Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. “He was a pastor there, very close to the people. And he's continued that,” Father Rosica says. “He's simply changed the color of his robes right now."
Father Rosica also shares what kind of leadership to expect from Pope Francis and why the cardinals chose him. He says Pope Francis’s papacy is “about taking the gospel to the people” and the cardinals believe he has the ability to do that. “They chose someone who has an extraordinary record for compassion, for relating to people not just those within the Catholic Church, those who are good Catholics,” Father Rosica says, “but especially those on the fringes, the poor, the destitute, the disenfranchised, those living in irregular relationships, those who have suffered, those who have brought suffering upon themselves.”
Father Rosica also addresses the controversies facing the church which many expect Pope Francis to reform. Father Rosica says the papacy is beyond that and not about widening the church or addressing the particular agendas of different countries. “The pope is elected because he's the pastor of a world church."