Thursday, March 14, 2013

PRAYERS FOR POPE FRANCIS I

 
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift: Send down upon Pope Francis, and upon the congregations committed to his charge, the healthful Spirit of your grace: and, that he may truly please you, pour upon him the continual dew of your blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer)
The present College of Cardinals was never going to elect a progressive pope.  The cardinals' choice of a 76 year old man signals that they wanted a caretaker leader rather than a long-reigning pope at this time.  My prayer is that Francis will be a caretaker in the mode of John XXIII, who will surprise us all and bring needed change to the Roman Catholic Church.

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a doctrinal conservative, who turned his back on liberation theology during the reign of John Paul II, so he's no Oscar Romero, as of now.  But Francis has great care and concern for the poor and lived a simple life as archbishop and cardinal, which count in his favor.

His care and concern seems not to extend to promoting equality for our LGTB brothers and sisters.  Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina for nearly two years.  During the debate over marriage equality, Francis said:
Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.
He's also said that allowing gay adoption is discrimination against children, who need both a mother and a father.

On the other hand, Francis has shown compassion for persons afflicted with AIDS, going so far as to visit them and wash and kiss their feet.

And on a very personal note, I am pleased that Francis did not choose to wear the ermine and velvet mozzeta, or cape, as shown in Gammarelli of Rome's shop window.


For Pope Francis:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

(Numbers 6:24-28)
Yes, it's the priestly blessing, but as a member of the priesthood of all believers, I'm allowed to pray the prayer.  Peace.

13 comments:

  1. And remember that Romero was chosen because he was so conservative that, when his name was announced, many priests rolled their eyes. And look how he changed... 12 March was the 36th anniversary of Rutillio Grande, the first priest Romero ordained, who was like a son to him. Romero cradled Grande's body and wept and wept. In those tears came the waters of transformation for Romero because his heart had been broken and he would not be the same again.

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    1. Caminante, thank you for the reminder. Hope springs eternal.

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  2. I wonder which one he ended up wearing.... surely the medium or tall.... This one cannot imagine a 'small' Pope!

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    1. Not the small, surely. Judging from pictures of the pope standing next to other men, perhaps he wore the tall.

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  3. The rabbi at my local university as part of the parents' day weekend (when parents of students visit for special talks and events) interdenominational service gives a talk explaining that the priestly blessing in Judaism is not only said by priests to the congregation on special days but also by parents to their children at the start of every sabbath. She then encourages the parents there to bless their children (even if not present since they are still in bed).

    We shall see on the new pope.

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    1. Thank you, Erp. That's good to hear from a rabbi. I like to use the blessing.

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  4. Pardon me, Erp, but I think you misunderstood the rabbi, or the rabbi misunderstood....something. The traditional blessing for children is to pray that they be blessed like Ephraim and Manasseh (referring to Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons in Genesis). The Priestly Blessing has a distinct liturgical use (actually two) but it's not used in domestic contexts. And as the commentaries like to point out, it's not so much a blessing as a prayer for God to bestow blessings.

    About Pope Frank: from what I've seen the people who love Cardinal Burke don't like him. Some of them hate him outright, and the rest simply hope he won't be as bad for them as they think he will be. But given his history under the Argentine junta, he's probably not the type who likes to speak truth to power.

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    1. I doubt God minds if I pray the priestly blessing, and I'm sure she bestows the blessing when I ask. I would not do so in a Jewish milieu if the prayer would cause offense.

      We already see "the times they are a-changing" in the Roman Catholic Church, and some people are quite resistant to change.

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  5. God bless and keep the Pope . . . far away from us.

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  6. @kishnevi, I don't think I did and a google search show the words of Birchat Kohanim are used by some/many Jewish parents (in addition to asking that the be like Ephraim and Manasseh or like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah) though it is debated (see http://www.ujafedny.org/blessing-for-children/ for an example). I will note that she did mention that the gestures are different though the words are the same.

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  7. Actually, I came back on this morning specifically to apologize, Erp, to you and the rabbi (and Mimi). Checking siddurim revealed it's a widespread usage among Orthodox families because (as one prayerbook explained in the glosses) the parents stand in for God with their children in the same way as Aaron and his sons did with the Israelites.

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  8. Apology accepted; it did give me an opportunity to do some more in depth checking. The rabbi is from the reform tradition though she keeps the sabbath fairly carefully (computer/cell phone off among other things) and feels that rituals are important.

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