Wow! What can one say.
This morning the new Pope opted to join the Cardinals on their Conclave buses rather than ride in the official papal motorcade, which was ready and waiting. We are already watching the beginnings of a revolution, as the Spirit has brought us a genuinely holy man. Watch out, things are going to get really interesting from here on in.
He may be staunchly conservative regarding sexuality morality, but this is a Pope capable of listening, without the hysterical edge to Benedict's obsessive rantings against gay marriage. (But see different reactions below.)
Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia has said it well for many of us:
To no small degree, having come close to facing the "guillotine" last time, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has had almost eight years to prepare for this. Yet even beyond the first notes he struck as Pope Francis I, a Page Three note in the moment seemed to sum up the ecclesial significance best....
This ain't Francis I so much as John Paul ITo be sure, that was down to the vesture – the simple white cassock, shirking the ermine mozzetta that was supposed to be worn with it.
— Rocco Palmo (@roccopalmo) March 13, 2013
And now, we'll get to see what those 33 Days would've looked like, if they had had the chance to play out.
I was in St. Peter's Square those many years ago, on 27th of August, 1978, when Albino Luciani walked out onto the balcony as Pope John I and startled all of us with his gentle but radiant smile. Pope Francis is not quite as radiant, but the humility, warmth, friendliness and deep spirituality are only too evident. I was shocked by the resemblance and it's the very first thing I noted about him. We have - after a long desert - been given a genuinely holy pope. Will it make a difference to LGBT people? That is the question, but my sense is that, all appearances to the contrary, this is a significant step forward, and possibly the only step possible in this deeply entrenched institution. A man who seems to mirror the standard prejudices of his Cardinalate class, but watch out when a holy man is elected.
I've read through a few of the bios of the man, some of the disturbing things he's said about gay people (led by the devil) and the questionable actions during Argentina's dirty war in the 70's. His defenders say it is his humility that prevents him from giving a defense of his actions during these years, so I'm waiting with suspended judgement on this one. Holy people can be almost as intransigent on certain issues as the rest of us, so it remains to be seen how far this Pope will journey regarding gay rights and the place of women in the church. But I am shocked by the change that we've just witnessed. There is a certain psychological threshold that a person has to cross before you sense you are in the presence of a holy woman or man and neither Karol Wojtyla, for all his charisma, nor Benedict for all his learning gave one the sense they had crossed over into genuine wisdom, in which the obsessions of the ego have been substantially purified. With Francis I, we are in holiness territory and its anybody's guess as to what is going to happen next. Be prepared to be surprised, very surprised.
Riding with the Cardinals in their conclave buses? This is a man who is going to listen. It just depends how many diverse and varied voices reach his ear.
p.s. for those who want a quick survey of LGBT responses to the election here is GAY CITY NEWS which heads its article with a sensational Headline, but ends with some cautiously optimistic responses from gay activists;