News
Personal Reflection: What Do You Think of the New Pope?

By Anne Hansen
Regional Director
Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Los Angeles

“So what do you think of the new Pope?” I find myself hesitating to answer the question not because it’s difficult or because I want to give a negative response but because it stirs up so much unexpected emotion.

The morning of the second day of the conclave I was leaving a meeting at Loyola Marymount University, walking along an outdoor path when the chapel bells began ringing. They chimed loud and long. It seemed odd as it was 11:20 which is not a usual time for bells. It hit me after a few minutes that there must be a new Pope and this was a way of announcing the news.

Jumping into the car I searched radio stations, listening for news and found most reporting white smoke rising from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. The minutes dragged on as newscasters, priests, and theologians filled air time with Vatican history and speculation on who the new Pope might be. Meanwhile, my phone rang from others as impatient as I was.

The drama was high with reports of velvet curtains parting and faces looking out to the crowd. Finally, the announcement was made: Jose Mario Bergoglio, a man from Argentina who was also a member of the Society of Jesus – a Jesuit – had been chosen as Pope and he took the name Francis. The announcement touched something that brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to pull off the freeway and talk to somebody, anybody about the significance of the choice.

Much as I wanted to rush home and turn on the television to see what was happening, I had to stop at the grocery store and when my daughter called excitedly to discuss the news I was still in a high state of emotion and found myself wiping my eyes in the ice cream aisle. What was this all about?

Upon reflection, I realized that working with the Jesuits over the past five years was influencing my emotional response to the announcement. The practice of putting faith into action and the consistent gentle reminder to find God in all things had brought about a welcome change in thinking and ultimately to life. My faith had been stretched, broadened due to learning about the work and example of Ignatius of Loyola, and while I am still in the very beginning stages of the experience I am grateful for it.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis has embraced Ignatian spirituality which took root over 500 years ago as Ignatius walked the streets of Rome ministering to the poor and gathering a small band of followers. It is a spirituality based on awareness of God and the surrounding world rather than on a set of rules. It uses phrases such as “contemplatives in action” and “men and women for others” as it offers an invitation to walk down the church steps and into the world to care for whoever is in need. Jesuits and now their many lay partners are active in their search for outreach.

What we read about this Pope tells us he cares for the poor and those on the margins of society. He lived simply without the trappings his position can bring and was accessible to the people he served. In a world so fascinated with wealth and power this offers hope.

The media coverage of the retirement of Pope Benedict and the gathering of cardinals in Rome was surprising and seemed to indicate that despite recent troubles the Catholic Church remains a revered institution. A few weeks ago at a parish meeting my pastor suggested the daily front page stories about the Catholic Church might mean it makes a difference in the world. It was a positive way of looking at things and fits with the extended coverage of the retirement of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis. Who knew that so many newscasters and pundits were Catholic and ready to share their experiences with such excitement? It might be wishful thinking but it feels like something is shifting in the universe.

We do not know the future. However, we do know that change is possible and we seem to be living in an age when the Church is poised to move forward by looking back to its roots. Perhaps Pope Francis will enable that change and that movement.





Recent News

July 17 - Young people of the Antilles recieved a message from Pope Francis on Sunday, as they gather for the 6th Antilles Episcopal Conference Youth Assembly.

June 28, 2018 - Pope Francis will create 14 new cardinal from 11 countries during the Ordinary Public Consistory in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday evening, June 28.

June 20, 2018 - Pope Francis speaks out on behalf of migrant families and mothers separated from their children at the Mexican border, saying populism is not the answer to the world’s immigration problem.

June 15, 2018 - This year, the Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus chose to hold its Ordination Mass a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border.

June 14, 2018 - Rep. Juan Vargas read a letter on the U.S. House Floor by Jesuit West Provincial Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, calling for support for the peaceful negotiation of a solution to the crisis in Nicaragua and for respect for the physical safety of all Nicaraguans.

June 13, 2018 - Jesuits West is grateful to the William H. Hannon Foundation for being the first Foundation in Los Angeles to join the Provincial Circle with their gift of $400,000.

June 11, 2018 - Bishop of San Diego, Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy ordained on Saturday, June 9, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in San Ysidro, California, four Jesuit Priests: Fr. JT Tanner, SJ , Fr. Elías Puentes, SJ, Fr. Alejandro Báez-González, SJ, and Fr. Thomas Flowers, SJ.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Mission Magazine - Spring 2018

Mission Magazine - Fall 2017

Mission Magazine - Fall 2016


Companions
Summer, 2018

Companions
Fall, 2017

Update
Summer, 2017


Jesuit Retreat Center of the Sierra
The Jesuit Retreat Center of the Sierra is an adult, youth, and family retreat center in Applegate, Placer County, California, for nonprofit groups of 20-130 (105 guests overnight; +25 additional beds in summer only).