2/9/2016 12:46:12 PM

Siena President Welcomes Pope Francis

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A message from Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M., Ph.D.

The Roman Catholic Church and the world welcomed the announcement that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, had been elected to lead the Church and that he would henceforth be known as Pope Francis. As the new pope was being introduced for the first time, the seasoned Vatican commentator, John Allen, observed on CNN that the selection of the name “Francis” was both stunning and highly symbolic. It was immediately clear to Allen which Francis the first Jesuit pope had chosen to emulate—none other than St. Francis of Assisi, who lived the gospel of Jesus Christ in poverty, simplicity, humble service to and solidarity with all God’s creatures. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis embraced a similar gospel lifestyle, preferring simplicity to pomp, the company of the poor to the palaces of the rich and humble service of others to his own personal gain.

In the piazza outside the papal basilica of St. John Lateran – the bishop of Rome’s cathedral –stands a statue of St. Francis with outstretched arms. When viewed from the right angle, it looks as if Francis were holding up the façade of the building. Commenting on the new pope’s choice of names, John Allen and many others acknowledged that the “Franciscan” qualities embodied by Jorge Mario Bergoglio may indeed be precisely what are needed at this time in order to “hold up” the Church, to rebuild it, to foster healing, reconciliation and renewal both within the Catholic community and beyond it.

Prior to invoking God’s blessing on the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square and the millions who were following the event around the globe, Pope Francis asked his audience, his brothers and sisters, to invoke God’s blessing upon him. At Siena College, where the story of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi continues to inform our mission and inspire our work, we do indeed pray for the new pope and we look forward to working with him, our Jesuit brother with the Franciscan heart, in rebuilding God’s house.

Click here for more information on Siena’s Catholic Franciscan mission and tradition.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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