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Michael Sneed: Cardinal George says Catholics waiting for ‘this man with great depth to show it’

Carol Marin

Carol Marin

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Updated: April 16, 2013 3:43PM



The papal choice . . .

It’s a double blessing.The election of

Pope Francis on Wednesday will result in a “twofer” for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George tells Sneed.

“Now I won’t be the only ‘Francis’ mentioned in the daily blessing at Mass,” he said. “It will now be for Francis our pope, as well as Francis our bishop.”

“It’s historic. The first pope from the New World,” said George, who described the church’s new shepherd as “quiet and poised and intense.”

But unlike

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan , he did not hear the new pope quipping “May God forgive you” to the conclave at dinner after the election.

“It [the election] was a surprising result,” George added. “It was quiet in the conclave. A time for prayer. We had already asked questions earlier and expressed our feelings clearly that the Curia [church government] was not functioning well.

“Now life goes on and we will wait for this man with great depth to show it.”

The odds were 25 to 1, and he was rumored to be the runner-up to head the papacy the last time.

Only this time Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina won the papal sweepstakes to become the Roman Catholic Church’s new pontiff — Pope Francis.

The big question: Will a man who takes public transportation and lives in an apartment with a simple stove where he cooks his meals be the reformer of a worldwide church beset by clerical sexual abuse, gender inequality and Vatican instability?

A member of the highly respected Jesuit order, the church’s intellectual elite, the new pope was elected on a day — 3-13-13 — that could be considered biblically significant: The most famous meal in Christendom, the last supper, was comprised of 13 people.

◆ The big question: Will the new pontiff — from a new world — be able to feed his flock the sustenance they need to stick it out?

“The Jesuits always get blamed for a lot that goes wrong,” chuckled Father Michael Garanzini, who is president and CEO of Loyola University of Chicago and secretary of higher education for the Jesuits.

“The new pope is a theological, doctrinal conservative in the mode of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI,” he said. “I’m not sure those expecting large changes in Catholic positions on sexuality are going to see them.

“But, on the other hand, he is not from Europe,” said Garanzini. “Not an insider in the Curia. So there’s an opportunity for fresh new ideas and governance he could bring.

“He is going to win crowds. He is a man who is comfortable, folksy, very pastoral and familiar when dealing with people; a guy who would tell you “Good night . . . and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Was it symbolic the rain stopped Wednesday when the white puffery from the Sistine Chapel smokestack signaled news a new pope had been selected?

Was it symbolic the new pope asked the people to pray for him before he prayed for them?

Is it significant he comes from Italian immigrants; speaks three languages; is one of five siblings; had a lung removed when he was a teen; or that he chose to take the name of the iconic St. Francis of Assisi, a reformer who had a passion for the poor?

Is it possible to be a top level CEO, media star and spiritual leader all at the same time?

As a Roman Catholic, it has not been an easy go for those of us worshipping at only one side of the altar. (Women can’t be priests.)

But I have hope there will be change. And that the new “il Papa” on the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square isn’t just a “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”

A papal addendum . . .

Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, is planning to attend the formal inauguration of the new pope at a Vatican mass next Tuesday. It is when Pope Francis receives a “fisherman’s” ring — a symbol reminding him he is a fisher of men like St. Peter, the first pope — and a woolen pallium, symbolic of a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders.

A papal postscript . . .

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who voted in the papal conclave, claims he had another reason to be joyful. His niece, Kelly, just gave birth to a baby boy, Charlie. “That’s another reason to say ‘alleluia’ but I can’t, because it’s Lent,” the jovial prelate chirped.

Sneedlings . . .

Condolences to the family of Angeline Bertuca, who passed away at the age of 92 last week ... Thursday’s birthdays: Billy Crystal, 65; Michael Caine, 80, and Chris Klein, 34.



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