The first year of Francis: a young priest in Rome reflects

From CNN, a young priest studying in Rome—Father Joel Camaya from the Philippines—offers his impressions of the last year: 

St. Peter’s Square is always packed with huge crowds during general audiences and the Sunday Angelus. Like the candor in his first address, he ends every Sunday gathering with “Buon pranzo!” (“Have a good lunch!”) People are hanging on to what this pontiff says: the novelty in his words and deeds and how different groups would interpret them.

I took advantage of this privilege that I am in Rome to follow closely what this new pope has to say and what he does. Most of the time, I take his words from my point of view as a priest, as one who is a co-worker in ministering to the people. In sharing my thoughts and reflection on the first year of his papacy, I also take this bias of one who has the task of shepherding.

I see the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate as one of preaching joy and mercy. He told the faithful gathered at the Palm Sunday Mass: “Do not be men and women of sadness; a Christian can never be sad!” And perhaps this is what makes the pope an even more relevant figure in today’s world. Under Francis, we would expect a revitalization of the church, that he would continue to make it closer to those in the peripheries. It is an echo of the action of the other Francis, the man of Assisi, rebuilding the church of Jesus.

The spring evening in which Pope Francis was elected is an apt symbol of the beginning of his papacy and the years that will follow. Perhaps it is not a mere coincidence that his pontificate coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. If Vatican II opened the windows for the spring air to come in, the papacy of Pope Francis opens the doors for the church and her pastors to go out — and here I would like to quote from his homily to priests on Holy Thursday: “May (Jesus) renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those ‘outskirts’ where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it.”

Read it all. 


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