Pope Francis

By Michael J. Matt

(ROME) As thousands of members of the press here in Rome made their collective dash to crank out copy and file rapid reports on the new pope, I found myself disposed to hold off at least until the smoke over the Sistine Chapel had cleared. After all, it’s difficult to form an objective opinion of a man engulfed in half-baked reports and rumors from “reliable sources” all over the world.

What I can personally verify is that, true to form, the prognosticators were wrong. I’ve been here in Rome for well over a week and during the run-up to the conclave, one name we didn’t hear mentioned inside the Holy See’s media center or indeed anywhere else in this city was Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio—the 76-year-old who last night became the first Jesuit to ascend to the Chair of St. Peter.

Pope Francis is an Argentine, of course, who served as provincial of the Society of Jesus and Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Hardly a Vatican insider, he reportedly kept his distance from the Roman Curia—a policy that may stand him in good stead to act decisively on the matter of the 300-page dossier on the Vatileaks scandal which Pope Benedict entrusted to his successor and which allegedly details wide spread corruption among the curia.

He’s known to have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother (is said to pray fifteen decades of the rosary every day), and in fact called upon Our Lady several times from the loggia during his first message to the world last night. This morning one of his first papal acts was to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica Santa Maria Maggoire. There he placed flowers on Mary’s altar and knelt for several long moments in prayer. If externals mean anything, our Holy Father’s devotion to the Mother of God is as genuine as it is touching, which, of course, bodes well for him and for us all.

Over the years he has distinguished himself as a champion of Christian marriage, speaking out courageously against his own government’s stand in favor of so-called “gay marriage”. He’s also an outspoken defender of the unborn. These are two happy realities that will most assuredly put our new pope at odds with the modern world, which is always a good thing. There is no greater social or moral threat to our civilization today than that presented by the international warriors against the Christian family. At least in this arena, it seems the forces of evil will have a force with which to be reckoned in Pope Francis.

Rumors and reports on the Internet create a far less positive impression of him where the question of the Traditional Latin Mass is concerned. Initial reports have it that Cardinal Bergoglio was not enthusiastic about Pope Benedict’s muto proprio Summorum Pontificum and that he actively blocked good priests who wanted to start offering the old Mass. It remains to be seen where Pope Francis stands on this question, but obviously it would be unthinkable for the new pope to undo the work of his predecessor where the Latin Mass is concerned.

On the other hand, there are other reports emerging now which tell quite a different story, and that is that Cardinal Bergoglio did not block the old Latin Mass and in fact set up at least a church in his diocese for its celebration. Has this been verified? Not definitively, however, we've already unearthed one Spanish-language news REPORT which has it that within 48 hours after Summorum Pontificum Cardinal Bergoglio had already approved St. Michael's parish in downtown Buenos Aires for the purpose of offering the old Mass.

There is a photograph flying around the internet at warp speed that appears to be of Cardinal Bergoglio receiving a blessing from a Protestant minister. Unsettling? Sure, but it now turns out that Cardinal Bergolio was in fact kneeling to receive a blessing from a Catholic priest when said Protestant minister stepped in to add his own two cents.

Another criticism that’s gone viral is that when the new pope paid his respects to his predecessor gfrom the loggia last night he neglected to use the title “pope” but rather referred to Benedict as “bishop of Rome”. Scandal? No. Benedict XVI is still very much alive and has an official title: “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Bishop Emeritus of Rome”. In other words, the new Pope got it exactly right.

A couple of hopeful tidbits: During the Holy Father’s first Mass in the Sistine Chapel today he was carrying the crosier of Pope Pius IX, the sacred music was all traditional, there were no women lectors, and the Mass was as dignified as the Novus Ordo can be. Of course, this Mass presumably would have been arranged beforehand and for whoever was chosen; but I was gratified to see it nevertheless.

Even more hopeful, as Pope Francis made his way through Santa Maria Maggiore today he quite unexpectedly stopped at the tomb of St Pope Pius V to kneel and pray to the champion of the Council of Trent and the Tridentine Mass. Make of this what you will.

Tomorrow there will be a papal audience for members of the press. I will be there to watch, listen and hopefully gain a better sense of who this man is. I will also attend the Angelus on Sunday for the same reason. As far as I’m concerned, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio is no more and it is time to acquaint ourselves with His Holiness Pope Francis.

I remain hopeful, despite my initial sense of dread last night when it was announced that a South American Jesuit would be the new successor of St. Peter. Perhaps my dread will prove to have been warranted. Please God let it not be so. In the meantime the grace of office and the mysterious workings of the Holy Ghost can and often do change everything, as the example of Pope Pius IX bears out— the liberal cardinal who quite unexpectedly became the great papal hammer of the liberals.

So forgive me for not combing the Internet for evidence of all the faults and missteps of Cardinal Bergoglio. At this moment, I feel obligated before God to add my humble prayers to those of all the loyal sons and daughters of the Holy Father throughout the whole world for him. May God grant him the strength to restore order to our Church in chaos and the faith to lead the world out of the valley of the shadow of death and into the light of Christ our King.

Habemus Papam. Long Live the Pope!




Habimus Papam!



I just went to get my hair done - and saved a baby from abortion instead!

I just went to get my hair done - and saved a baby from abortion instead! by Kelly Clinger

Kelly Clinger, a performer and former backup singer for the pop star Britney Spears, had two abortions when she was in her early twenties. She is now a pro-life speaker for Silent No More Awareness and blogs about her pro-life activities here.

Kelly ClingerOctober 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - I’ve been putting off getting my hair done for a while because it’s hard for me to rationalize spending the money and spending 2 hours being still. (I know, first world problem!) But, alas, my roots were quite blond so I scheduled an appointment for today. I’ve been battling the blues for a few days and would probably have stayed in bed had it not been for the appointment.

I walked in and took a seat while I waited for my stylist to come get me. I can’t even make up what happened next.

On the other side of the wall, I heard this conversation:

Girl #1: “Well, I’ve always been pro-choice, especially if there’s something wrong.”

(I look around for candid camera.)

Girl#2: “Yeah I’ve been sick for a month. I just don’t think I can do this if there’s something wrong with the baby.”

(After I get over my shock, I begin to pray. I thought I was here to get my hair colored, but apparently You have other plans, Jesus.)

Girl #1: “I think you did the right thing by making the appointment. It’s harder to talk yourself out of it once you have a time to get it done. Will your husband drive you?”


Girl #2: “No, he doesn’t know I’ve been thinking about abortion. I think I will just tell him I had a miscarriage.”

(Here we go!)

As I round the corner with my “Pray to end abortion” t-shirt and my LIFE band, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “meekness and kindness, Kelly”, and I thanked Him for the reminder.

Me: “I couldn’t help but overhear what you guys were talking about and I’ve never felt stronger in my life that I was put in this room by God.”

(Their mouths drop open, and they just stare at me. I take a deep breath.)

Me: “I don’t know if you know God, but He knows your baby. He already has his or her life planned out. He gave you that baby and believed that life would be safe in your womb. PLEASE don’t do what I did many years ago. Please don’t kill your baby.”

(30 seconds of silence ensued that felt like an hour…and then they both start to cry.)

Girl #2: “But they think my baby has Down Syndrome. I don’t know how to care for a retarded child.”

Me: “Your child isn’t retarded. Your child may have special needs that will be a challenge. But the joy that child will bring you will overshadow EVERYTHING else.”

(I had Mattie Loux, a Down syndrome child who was adopted by a friend of mine and who just came home after spending his first year in the hospital, fresh in my mind. The Louxs have seven children, four of whom are adopted, and two who have Down syndrome. So I took out my phone and started to show her pictures of Mattie.)

Me: “Look at that baby’s smile. He has so much love. If you don’t think you can provide that, please don’t take your baby’s life away. Let someone else love him/her. I would love your baby like my own.”

(She begins to weep and takes my hand.)

Girl #2: “He’s mine. I know he’s mine. I can’t do it. God will help me.”

(I cried and prayed with her.)

I sat for the 2 hours with a grateful heart and didn’t mind it much.

Before Girl #2 left the salon, she came over to thank me and said she was a walk-in. She doesn’t even get her hair cut there.

Honestly, I was terrified to stand up and say something. My heart was almost beating out of my chest, but I did it anyway….and I think me and Jesus (and Mattie) may have saved a baby today.

And THAT’S a good day.

Jhesu+Marie, Brantigny