Well, for starters, he’s ruffling the feathers of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican Gendarmeria (police), who ended up grumbling to the Italian press about it. What did our dear Pontiff do?
On Saturday, the Holy Father dismissed the papal car and escort vehicle waiting for him and walked – yes, I said walked – from his residence at Domus Sancta Marthae (St. Martha’s House) to the Paul VI Hall where he was to hold audience with more than 5,000 journalists and their families. Did you notice anything odd about the previous sentence? Pope Francis is still staying at St. Martha’s House. Anybody taking bets on how long he forgoes the Papal apartments?
After yesterday’s Mass at Santa Ana, the Holy Father greeted every member of the congregation at the foot of the steps outside the church. Then? Then he meandered into the crowd to greet those who couldn’t fit into the church. I can see how that would be a security guard’s nightmare!
Today Pope Francis met with Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a woman with whom he’d clashed as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The reason for the clash? Same-sex “marriage” and distribution of free contraceptives. President Kirchner brought the pontiff a special gift – mate – an herbal drink of which Pope Francis is particularly fond. He joyfully
accepted the gift and immediately began enjoying it. Ooops! What was that? He drank it right then and there? Yep, he did even though Vatican protocol forbids the Pope being seen consuming anything but the Eucharist.
New up, of course is the Holy Father’s Inaugural Mass, scheduled for 9:30 Rome time (4:30 EDT) tomorrow, March 19, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The Mass will be held in St. Peter’s Basilica and – why does this surprise me? – the new Pope has invited some very interesting guests in addition to the usual members of the Curia and heads of state;
- the Franciscan friars of Mt. Alverna in central Italy — where St. Francis received the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, in the year 1224 A.D. The friars will take part in the ceremony.
- Bartholomew II, Patriarch of Constantinople. This marks the first time since the 1054 A.D. schism that a Patriarch of Constantinople has been invited to a Papal Inauguration.
- Sixteen members of important Jewish delegations
- Delegations of Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainists and other non-Christian sects
A final tidbit regarding the guest list. Shortly after his election, Pope Francis wrote a letter home, so to speak, requesting that the clergy, religious, and laity of Argentina not make the trip to attend the inaugural Mass and instead give the money to the poor that they would have spent on travel and lodging. He told them that being united spiritually was enough.
Here’s how tomorrow’s Mass will go (in terms of the inauguration):
The Imposition of the Pallium (a stole-like garment made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool. It symbolizes the Good Shepherd. It has five red crosses. Pope Francis will receive the Pallium used by Benedict XVI when he was Pope.)
The Reception of the Fisherman’s Ring (It is made of silver and gold and bears the image of St. Peter with the keys.)
The Obedience (Six Cardinals representing three orders, make an act of obedience to the new pope. It’s expected that other members of the People of God will do the same.)
My day tomorrow is heavily scheduled, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch in real time. But, I’ll certainly be there in person, spiritually. In case you’ve got the same situation, here is a link to the entire Mass booklet: