Catholics on the front lines of social justice are delighted that Pope Francis spends so much energy talking about and visiting the poor.
One of themes Pope Francis repeatedly returns to in his talks and spiritual reflections is the idea of solidarity – a global solidarity, rich and poor, stemming from the recognition of being children of God. He sees the church as the instrument of building this recognition and then drawing humanity together.
This recognition, he insists, is not without responsibility. We are all required to live in solidarity with each other, rich and poor. This means caring for each other. Those with resources have a particular responsibility to “feed” those without such resources.
Pope Francis’ daily homilies, delivered without notes at the morning mass he celebrates in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae inside the Vatican, have drawn worldwide interest. His reflections on the daily readings are repeatedly cited in news stories and blogs. Often simple, but piercing in character, they speak as much to gospel lessons as to the man who articulates them.
Pope Francis, speaking at an economic forum, links widespread unemployment with a global economic system that does not consider solidarity an important consideration.
“We understand reality better not from the center, but from the outskirts,” Pope Francis said to thousands of persons awaiting him Sunday at the parish of Sts. Elizabeth and Zechariah in the Prima Porta neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Rome.
Upon arriving, Francis greeted the families with children who had been baptized during the year and also heard several confessions, according to a Vatican statement.
Pope Francis may write his first encyclical, a high and authoritative letter from the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, on poverty, several Italian media outlets are reporting.
Additionally, the new pontiff may give his signature to an encyclical being completed on faith by the retired Pope Benedict XVI.
While new popes have been known to complete encyclicals begun by their predecessors, Italian Bishop Luigi Martella has said the retired pope is still working on the document, which Francis has then agreed to sign and promulgate.
Now let’s see if I have this straight.
The Jesuit, Jorge Bergoglio, gets elected pope.
He takes the name “Francis,” after the founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis of Assisi.
The Jesuit pope, in his first major appointment, names a Franciscan, Father José Rodriguez Carballo, the head of the Franciscan order and president of the Union of Superiors General (USG), the umbrella group for representatives of men's religious orders, to be secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious.
Pope Francis has possibly de-emphasized a number of the formal titles normally taken by the leader of the Roman Catholic church, choosing instead to list himself first by the basic title "Bishop of Rome" in the Vatican's annual directory.
The directory, known as the Annuario Pontificio, lists the Vatican's official information regarding church leaders and dioceses throughout the world. Release of the 2013 edition was delayed following Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in February and Francis' election in March.
At his daily homily Wednesday, Pope Francis said Catholics should work with all who do good, including atheists. He also said it is "blasphemy" to think you can kill in the name of God.
Like his two immediate predecessors, Pope Francis has no experience in international diplomacy. In the past, many popes like Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI came from the Vatican diplomatic corps. With many years of service as Vatican diplomats, these popes were comfortable as statesmen with a diplomatic roles. They already knew the Vatican line on international issues, and if they wanted to change it, they did it consciously.