Let us give thanks28 march 2013
for Pope Francis and the Most Reverend Justin Welby!
48 hours apart, two large celebrations have formalised two very significant changes at the head of two Christian Churches:
On 19 March, St Joseph’s Day, Pope Francis presided over his Papal inaugural mass. Elected by the College of Cardinals a week previously, he was immediately popular! Through his simplicity, his humility and his choice of name – that of the Proverello of Assisi, one of the most popular saints – every Catholic in the world acknowledged him as their Holy Father.
A very important gesture brought us even closer to him: when he travelled across St Peter’s Square in a new popemobile (not armoured), he asked to stop and got out to go and kiss Cesare, a man with severe disability; the smile that appeared on Cesare’s face showed how much this gesture of compassion and kindness depicted what the Pope was going to say in his homily about Saint Joseph: “In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openess to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”
On 21 March, in Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby was enthroned as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and so became the Primate of the Anglican Communion in 146 countries of the world. He is going to receive a letter of congratulations, signed on 18 March by all the members of the International Coordination Team and the Board of Directors who were meeting in Leeds. Bishop John Packer, the Anglican Communion delegate for Faith and Light, will give it to him. In order to enter the Cathedral, he had to strike the door three times with his pastoral staff and declare: “I come knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, and in weakness and fear and in much trembling.”
He spoke to the newspaper La Croix about ecumenism: “We can remain active especially in the area of the new evangelisation in Europe. Our Churches must be ready to work together for the evangelisation of Europe. Secondly, I propose that we unite our strengths in all social areas that involve the protection of life, from the beginning to the end of it…”