Gentle and humble anticipation :
is a new Saint Pius X coming ?
IT will be one hundred years ago next July 20, that Pope Leo XIII passed away at the age of ninety-three, after having sat in the See of Peter for twenty-five years. Never before had such a resounding concert of praise and regrets been heard around a Pope’s bier.
And yet, the Jesuit, Father Fontaine, dared to write, without the slightest fear of contradiction :
“ No previous Pope has left such a mass of encyclicals and documents on all kinds of questions – biblical, philosophical and theological – as has Leo XIII. Yet which of his predecessors has left the Church of France in such doctrinal confusion and intellectual anarchy as that which we now experience ? ”
On August 4, 1903, as though directed by divine Providence, the votes of the conclave fell to Cardinal Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice. The Church would be saved by Rome once again.
She will be saved once more this very year, if God so wills ; let us have no doubt about it. The rumour has already reached us from Italy, echoing the holy hope of the best among us. The Italian weekly L’Espresso has made its forecast in an article entitled “ Bergoglio in Pole Position. ”
THE GENTLE AND HUMBLE CARDINAL JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO
“ Midway through November, his colleagues wanted to elect him President of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference. He refused. If there had been a Conclave, however, it would have been difficult for him to refuse the election to the papacy, because he is the one the cardinals would vote for resoundingly, if they were called together to choose immediately the successor to John Paul II.
“ He is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, archbishop of Buenos Aires. Born in Argentina (with an Italian surname), he has shot to the top of the list of the papabili, given the ever-increasing likelihood that the next pope could be Latin-American. Reserved, timid, and laconic, he will not lift a finger to advance his own campaign – but even this is counted among his strong suits.
“ John Paul II made him a cardinal during the last round of appointments, in February of 2001. On that occasion, Bergoglio distinguished himself by his reserve among his many more festive colleagues. Hundreds of Argentinians had begun fundraising efforts to fly to Rome to pay homage to the new man with the red hat. Bergoglio, however, stopped them. He ordered them to remain in Argentina and distribute the money they had raised to the poor. In Rome, he celebrated his new honour virtually alone – and with Lenten austerity.
“ He has always lived this way. Since he was made archbishop of the Argentinian capital, the luxurious residence next to the cathedral has remained empty. He lives in a nearby apartment, together with another bishop, old and ailing. In the evening, he himself cooks for both of them. He rarely drives, getting around most of the time by bus, wearing the cassock of an ordinary priest.
“ Of course, it is more difficult now for him to move about incognito, his face becoming always more familiar in his country. Ever since Argentina has plunged into a terrible crisis and everyone else’s reputation – politicians, business leaders, officials, intellectuals – has fallen through the floor, the star of Cardinal Bergoglio has risen to its zenith. He has become one of the few guiding lights of the people. Yet he is not the type to compromise himself for the public. Every time he expresses himself, he rouses and surprises his audience. In the middle of November, instead of giving a learned homily on social justice to the people of Argentina reduced by hunger – he told them to return to the humble teachings of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. ‘This,’ he explained, ‘is the way of Jesus.’ And once one takes this seriously, one understands that ‘to trample upon the dignity of a woman, a man, a child, an elderly person, is a grave sin that cries out to heaven,’ and one decides not to do it any more.
“ The other bishops follow in his footsteps. During the Holy Year of 2000 he asked the entire Church in Argentina to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship. As a result of this act of purification, the Church found herself able to ask the nation to acknowledge how its own sins had contributed to its current disaster. At the celebration of the Te Deum at the most recent national feast, last May 25, there was a record audience for Cardinal Bergoglio’s homily. The cardinal asked the people of Argentina to do as Zacchaeus had done in the Gospel. He was a rascally loan shark. Aware of his moral baseness, however, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, to see Jesus and let himself be seen and converted by Him.
“ There is no politician, from the right to the extreme left, who is not dying for the blessing of Bergoglio. Even the women of Plaza de Mayo, ultraradicals and unbridled anti-Catholics, treat him with respect. He has even made inroads into the uncompromising positions of a few of them in private meetings. On another occasion, he was seen at the deathbed of an ex-bishop, Jeronimo Podestá, who
had married in defiance of the Church and was dying poor and forgotten by all. From that moment, Mrs. Podestá became one of his devoted fans.
“ Bergoglio, however, has also had his difficulties with his ecclesiastical world. He is a Jesuit of the old school, faithful to St. Ignatius. He became the provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina just when the dictatorship swept into power and many of his confreres were tempted to take up the rifle and apply the teachings of Marx. Once removed from his position as superior, Bergoglio returned to obscurity. He came back into the public eye in 1992 when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Antonio Quarracino, made him his auxiliary bishop.
“ From there, his ascent began. The first – and almost only – interview he has given was to a parish news bulletin, ‘Estrellita de Belém,’ as if to make the point that the Church is in the minority and should not cultivate illusions of grandeur. He travels as little as possible. He visits the Vatican only when strictly necessary, the four or five times a year they summon him. He reserves a small room in a residence for clergy (the ‘Casa del Clero’ on Via della Scrofa,) and every morning at 5 :30 he is already awake and praying in the chapel.
“ Bergoglio excels in one-on-one communication, but he can also speak well in public when necessary. At the last Synod of Bishops in the fall of 2001, they unexpectedly asked him to take the place of one of the speakers who had withdrawn. Bergoglio managed the meeting so well that, at the time for electing the twelve members of the secretary’s council, he was elected with maximum votes.
“ Someone in the Vatican had the idea to invite him to direct an important dicastery. ‘Please, I would die in the Curia,’ he implored. They spared him.
“ Since that time, the idea of getting him to return to Rome as the successor of Peter has begun to spread with growing intensity. The Latin-American cardinals are increasingly focused upon him, as is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The only key figure among the Curia who hesitates when he hears his name is the Secretary of State Angelo Sodano – the very man known for supporting the idea of a Latin-American pope. (Sandro Magister, L’Expresso n° 49 of November 28, 2002)
AFTER JOHN PAUL II, BERGOGLIO
La Nación, an Argentinian newspaper, extensively quotes the Italian weekly in its December 4, 2002 edition. The next day it published remarks that the Italian expert on the Vatican, Sandro Magister, had made during an interview with its correspondent in Rome.
“ Rome. Sandro Magister, the expert on the Vatican of the weekly L’Espresso, has just devoted a long article to Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio whom he considers one of the best placed candidates to succeed John Paul II. Yesterday he spent a very busy day because of the repercussions from his article. In it, he asserted that the Argentinian bishop was in first place. This raised the curiosity of interested parties in Argentina, who are eager for additional information.
“ What grounds does he have for asserting with such conviction that the present archbishop of Buenos Aires could be the next Pope, the first Latin American Pope, and the first Jesuit to become Pope ? Sandro Magister, who is fifty-nine years old and has spent thirty years as a Vaticanist (a journalist specialising in Vatican affairs), explained his thoughts in an interview with La Nación. Although he does not know him personally, Bergoglio’s low-profile personality seems to him to be the opposite of Cardinal Tettamanzi’s. The latter is the former Archbishop of Genoa and present Archbishop of Milan considered by many as the prime Italian ‘papabile’.
“ ‘Moreover,’ he said, ‘the Archbishop of Buenos Aires directly personifies what the College of Cardinals expects from the next Pope : someone whose style breaks with the charismatic and extraordinary Karol Wojtyla, someone whose manner is more sober, more interior : who more explicitly expresses the essence of the Gospel.’
“ In Magister’s view, Bergoglio is not only highly regarded by the German cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, but also by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, who is ‘the most powerful and the most influential of the Italian cardinals.’
“ ‘Why did you devote an article to Bergoglio ?’
“ ‘I do not know him personally, but I started to get to know him from the outside, these last few months. I began to notice that he has a personality that is unique and very uncommon at this level of the upper hierarchy. I listened to people from his entourage at the Vatican who spoke about him with interest. Rome is a city where the leading lights of the universal Church pass without stopping, but I noticed that all attention gradually converged towards him as a possible candidate.’
“ ‘In what way do you find his personality to be unique ?’
“ ‘It is his simplicity, his austerity. He flees everything that resembles honours and the pursuit of a career, and also there is his deep spirituality. For example, when people speak of a possible successor, they mention the name of Dionigi Tettamanzi, the present Archbishop of Milan. Well, in many ways, Bergoglio is almost the opposite of Tettamanzi !’
“ ‘Why ?’
“ ‘Because Tettamanzi is an ecclesiastic who made an unbelievably extraordinary public relations campaign in a bid to win the cathedral of Milan.’
“ ‘And people did not like that ?’
“ ‘Tettamanzi attained his goal, but it was injurious to the marketability of his brand name at the Conclave. With all this propaganda, the star is setting on his chances as a possible successor.’
“ ‘There are groups, however, that back him all the way, for example, Cardinal Sodano who, you say in your article, will not support Bergoglio.’
“ ‘Sodano is an inscrutable character. Until yesterday he seemed to support the likelihood that the next Pope will be South American instead of an Italian. Some think that he was doing this to scuttle the candidacy of another Italian, that, in reality, the Secretary of State has an eye on it for himself. Now that a Latin American candidate has surfaced, he no longer leans in this direction.
“ ‘What do you think of the other prospective Latin American papabili, such as Oscar Rodriguez Madariaga (Honduras) and the Mexican Norberto Rivera Carrera ?’
“ ‘In reality, they were never true candidates, only the media presented them as such.’
“ ‘Some think that with an article like the one that you wrote on Bergoglio, your true intention may have been to sink him.’
“ ‘From Bergoglio’s point of view, obviously, this article is of no use to him : someone who generally is at the height of his career has no interest in being promoted by a publicity blitz. This, however, is not always the case. When it is a question of a very exceptional person, speaking of him only gives notoriety to a little known figure.’
“ ‘No one knew Karol Wojtyla before his election to the pontificate…’
“ ‘But Bergoglio is not Karol Wojtyla, and I believe that the cardinals have no desire to elect someone who repeats the characteristics of Wojtyla. They want someone who will not be overly appealing to the media, someone with a more sober style, more interior. The College of Cardinals is not inclined to require the Pope to be a great actor ; this is what emerged from the speeches made at the Synod of 2001 devoted to defining the vocation of the bishops. The challenges which face the Church in the future are revealed therein, and what sort of man the next Pope should be : a Pope who will preach the Cross and return to the essence of the Gospel. It is obvious that a person like Bergoglio fully expresses this need to return to the Gospel, the need for sobriety with which the Church must face up to its fights and make plain its essential nature.
“ ‘Is Bergoglio highly regarded by the Pope ?’
“ ‘I do not know. He made him cardinal and I think he must hold him in esteem.’ ”
MOTHER OF GOD, HAVE PITY ON US !
In an article entitled Mother of God, have pity on us ! Fr. de Nantes wrote on August 15, 1972 an appeal to the Blessed Virgin Mary that She intercede with our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, on behalf of the Church, and that She may receive the mandate to intervene promptly (CCR n° 30, August 1972). He asked for three things : another Pope, the conversion of our bishops, and a new Council to cast an anathema on the preceding one, and all this during the lifetime of those responsible for it. He asked that the new Pope be “ a man who was among the moderates at the last Council, who is learned and impartial and, most important of all, strong enough to assume personal responsibility ; a man into whose hands they can lay the whole set of accounts of the bankruptcy of the past ten years ” He suggested : “ Cardinal Felici ? ” (CCR n° 31, September 1972).
Six years later, this prayer was answered, and even beyond what was requested, in the person of Albino Luciani who appeared immediately to be “ another Saint Pius X without knowing it ”, able to “ restore all things in Christ. ” This is why he was assassinated by the supporters of the Antichrist, to whom God had granted permission to do harm a while longer. How long ? Until the disappearance of all those who participated in the Council, contrary to the last request of Fr. de Nantes ? Thirty years have passed, and now only forty survivors remain, among them Karol Wojtyla who is still there, having become the Head, the Person in command, the party directly and immediately responsible for all the persisting evil that he has caused or that he tolerates. More than ever, he must go. What Fr. de Nantes wrote about Paul VI is more than ever applicable to his successor who still claims to be his ‘son’ : “ For the sake of so many souls heading for ruin, for the sake of the Church sliding headlong towards destruction, in the interest even of his own eternal salvation, John Paul II must go; and if men have not the courage to do anything about it, then we must pray for an Act of God… But let it not be through sudden death, an event we must dread both on his own account and on that of the Church. Let us hope rather that he may yet learn his lesson at the very end, and seek to redress the evil. ”
After having reasserted his faith in the Church against “ those lucid and tormented persons ” who go about repeating that his “ successor could only be even worse, ” he referred to “ all the lessons taught us by the history of the Papacy ” to express his confidence in the future : “ The institution of the Conclave is an excellent one, though, like all other human institutions, it sometimes fails to function for the best. Like human individuals too, it is able to remember past events and will seek to repair the damage once the consequences have become apparent. ”
What he said of Cardinal Felici is just as applicable today to Jorge Marío Cardinal Bergoglio (pronounced : Bergolio) : “ I can do no harm by telling you that I have in mind Cardinal Bergoglio, and that already I am praying for him. ”
Brother Bruno of Jesus.
He is risen ! n° 6, January 2003