Class Act: Pope Francis calls to cancel his newspaper delivery

There is an Italian proverb: Chi fa da sé fa per tre… Someone who does a thing for himself, is as good as three people doing it for him. You do the job when you want it done and better than people who aren’t invested in your task.

Moreover, there are somethings that you really should not task out.

The newly elected Pope went back to his pre-conclave digs, packed his bag, paid his bill…

Now I read at CNA:

Pope Francis surprised the owner of a kiosk in Buenos Aires with a telephone call to send his greetings and explain that he will no longer need a morning paper delivered each day.

Around 1:30 p.m. local time on March 18, Daniel Del Regno, the kiosk owner’s son, answered the phone and heard a voice say, “Hi Daniel, it’s Cardinal Jorge.”

He thought that maybe a friend who knew that the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires bought the newspaper from them every day was pulling a prank on him.

“Seriously, it’s Jorge Bergoglio, I’m calling you from Rome,” the Pope insisted.

“I was in shock, I broke down in tears and didn’t know what to say,” Del Regno told the Argentinean daily La Nacion. “He thanked me for delivering the paper all this time and sent best wishes to my family.”

Del Regno shared that when Cardinal Bergoglio left for Rome for the conclave, he asked him if he thought he would be elected Pope.

“He answered me, ‘That is too hot to touch. See you in 20 days, keep delivering the paper.’ And the rest is, well, history,” he said.

“I told him to take care and that I would miss him,” Del Regno continued. “I asked him if there would ever be the chance to see him here again. He said that for the time being that would be very difficult, but that he would always be with us.”

Before hanging up the phone, he added, the Pope asked him for his prayers.

Daniel’s father, Luis Del Regno, said they delivered the paper to the former cardinal’s residence every day.

On Sundays, he said, the cardinal “would come by the kiosk at 5:30 a.m. and buy La Nacion. He would chat with us for a few minutes and then take the bus to Lugano, where he would serve mate (tea) to young people and the sick.

Among the “thousands of anecdotes” the elder Del Regno remembers is one involving the rubber bands that he put around the newspapers to keep them from being blown away when they were delivered to the cardinal.

At the end of the month, he always brought them back to me. All 30 of them!

He said he gets goose bumps whenever he thinks about Pope Francis’ simplicity.

“In June he baptized my grandson, it was an amazing feeling,” Del Regno said. “I know what he’s like. He’s one of a kind.”


I am not on board with the jettisoning of meaning-laden symbols, but this sort of thing is, simply put, classy.

This story reinforces the impression I had of Card. Bergoglio when he would stay at our residence (the one he went back to after his election) and would sit and talk with the stable residents.  He was warm, affable, not talkative, but engaged and genuinely interested in you.  And he very much dressed down rather than up.  We can debate the merits of dress and the cardinalatial dignity, but … making the call himself to someone with whom he had that rapport… bring back the rubber bands from the paper to save money… classy.

I may have to start a new post category: Class Act!

On another note, however, I wonder if anyone reading from Argentina can tell us about the newspaper His Holiness chose to read: La Nacion.   Newspapers generally have cultural and political orientations.  What about La Nacion?

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  1. StJude says:

    Sweet story.

  2. Rachel says:

    I like it! We can appreciate both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI as good fathers and shepherds in different ways. The Church is big and different aspects of God’s truth may show forth more clearly at different times. St. Francis of Assisi wearing rags or St. Louis of France telling his nobles to dress to their station so their wives might love them better– they both were motivated by love and were great models.

  3. Frank H says:

    Fr. Z, were you in the audience that the press had with Pope Francis? I thought I caught a glimpse of you greeting him.

  4. Rachel says:

    Or: Pope Francis taking the bus and doing his own cooking, and other cardinals having these things done for them so that they might have more time to serve the Church– both are motivated by love and are good examples.

    I know a priest who learned the TLM simply and solely because Benedict XVI had praised it in his motu proprio. That priest, a member of a Novus Ordo religious order who’d never been interested in the old liturgy before, learned it and started saying it for us because of his fidelity and devotion to the Holy Father. I wonder what would happen to me if I tried to embrace and imitate Pope Francis in some way I’ve never thought about before.

  5. Patrick-K says:

    Regarding the black shoes, etc., could it have something to do with his vow of poverty? I don’t really know, but I would assume that becoming pope doesn’t release him from his vows as a Jesuit. In general, I wonder how many previous popes have had such vows, and what it means for their actions as pope. Just thinking….

  6. SteelBiretta says:

    In the spirit of trying to find something negative in every story about Pope Francis, let me respond to this article (with tongue planted firmly in cheek):

    “Why didn’t Pope Francis keep his subscription? So much for caring about those less fortunate than him. And making phone calls himself… he obviously doesn’t care about the dignity of his office. And I’m concerned about this obsession with environmentalism; she should realize that there are more important things than returning your rubber bands to the kiosk owner.”

  7. SteelBiretta says:

    Wikipedia says that La Nacion is the leading conservative paper in Argentina, and the direct competitor of the centrist Clarin (which had written the article abour the Latin Mass in Buenos Aires). I’d be interested in hearing what those from Argentina have to say about it as well.

  8. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Classy, yes. And something much more that I think many are missing. The Holy Spirit is working through Holy Father to win and win back friends for The Church.

    The Church in many places is no longer respected, even hated. So are the reports from Ireland, once a very Catholic nation. So are the reports from other places. And we all know the reasons. By doing so many little acts of humility and service, Pope France will gain and gain back respect for our Faith. Put differently, Blessed Mother Teresa has been elected Pope (in a manner of speaking).

    I too am a bit concerned about the liturgy. Yet I believe the achievements of the previous Pope are solid and will be lasting. For now it important is to see The Church in service to the sick, to the dying, to the poor (and poor in spirit), to those in prison, to those on the margins. And this will be noticed.

  9. tgarcia2 says:

    @Patrick-K: He is still under the Jesuit vows, as explained by Fr. James Martin SJ in everyones “favorite” magazine

  10. Tradster says:

    Definitely a nice, warm story. It would be even better if he would begin referring to himself as Pope.

  11. Random Friar says:

    @tgarcia2: The same article says:

    If the Jesuit accepts the invitation [to be a bishop] (and he almost always does out of a desire to help the universal church) the Jesuit then is formally “dispensed” from his vows of obedience and poverty. Obedience because he obviously is not taking orders from the Superior General any longer. Poverty because under canon law a bishop must own property.

  12. Anchorite says:

    Great story indeed, Father. And you are absolutely right on the Class Act category! Can’t wait.

  13. Southern Baron says:

    Regarding the famous shoes, I am reminded of a time in high school. We used to have one of the Jesuits over for dinner now and then. My parents noticed his shoes were quite worn, and though I told them not to, they insisted on giving him an envelope at Christmas and encouraged him to buy a new pair. I am embarrassed to this day on their behalf. Anyhow he tried to refuse, but when they insisted he took it. He never did buy the shoes; I’m sure it went to charity. Another time he explained to a few of us students that his watch was not “his watch” but rather “the watch he used,” which had in fact been found in a box of things left by a deceased Jesuit. This does not mean all this is the only way, but it is Pope Francis’s way. That itself is a hallmark of Ignatian “indifference”: maybe Pope Francis fears that what for some would just be form of office would for him be a temptation to something else. Some can be good Christians and rich. Some cannot.

  14. AdMajoremDeiGloriam says:

    Patrick: Pope Francis was dispensed of his vows of poverty and obedience (not chastity, and I would guess not the fourth vow) when he became a bishop. As far as I understand, this is standard for those who are appointed bishops after making religious profession. I believe canon law requires bishops to own some property (others may be able to clarify), and though he must be open to taking advice, a Jesuit bishop isn’t bound to take orders from Father General in the same way. That said, Pope Francis seems to demonstrate a great desire to live with a spirit of poverty and obedience even though those requirements have been lifted. He won’t be taken directions from Father General, but the Pope recently told him he wants to be treated as any other Jesuit. I imagine the vows have shaped his relationship to Christ in a way that is not easily shaken with their dispensation.

  15. motheroften says:

    Father Z.,
    When you write stories that show you love the Pope, it makes it so much easier for me to trust him. I am not very learned about all of these liturgical matters, and so all I can do is simply trust you when you mention something being wrong. But along with that comes some fear then, that maybe I can’t trust the Pope and I feel myself draw back. But when you show confidence in Our Holy father, it makes me feel happy to be Catholic and proud of him, that he is my father too. This week, after reading his words, I sent my husband ( who is a carpenter) to a local shelter with my sons to work for them as a charity. This Pope makes me want to not just say I am Catholic, but act like I am Catholic. But I know too I should be cautious also, and so I read what you write about him. Thank you for this story. Peace to you.

  16. tgarcia2 says:

    @Random Friar-I know, I just left the article there for people to read and not cut and paste certain parts. That one I was waiting for someone to point out, so thank you! :)

  17. AdMajoremDeiGloriam says:

    Well I guess a few people beat me while I was typing. Sorry for the redundancy.

  18. TXCatholic says:

    What a heart-warming story and a great post. Thank you Fr. Z for helping us to get to know our new Papa.

  19. Brilliant, I absolutely love the story – and Pope Francis.
    Rachel: how about if Cardinal B. used his recreation time to cook and clean? (And, btw, how long does it take to cook for one person? Something tells me that Cardinal B. was not into 5-course gourmet meals for himself …)

  20. DCMArg says:

    Dear Fr.Z and friends,
    I’m from Argentina and that is my favourite newspaper. It is a classic, old newspaper founded by a former president in 1870. It has a conservative profile and in general it is Church-friendly, which upsets local leftish media (and of course our government). It is a very important newspaper, edited in Buenos Aires but distributed to the whole country.

  21. McCall1981 says:

    @ motheroften

    I’m feeling the same way, kind of a cautious optimism.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    He cares about the people in knows in a personal Christian way. This is awesome.

  23. PA mom says:

    Diddo, mother often.

    This story is one I can share with the kids to help them learn about our new Pope as well.

  24. DCMArg says:

    It is a nice story, in my opinion more about loyalty than humility.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    The three popes, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis and all being used by God to work together in particular ways to bring the world, including the Catholic laity, to the kerygma–the great story of the life, mission and person of Jesus Christ, intended for each and every person on earth.

    So how does this related to Pope Francis? A lot of people are hung up on that basic element of conversion to the Kingdom of God–trust. Without trust, people can’t ever connect to the story of the Gospel and the Church whose task it is to bring it to them. The Church spent the last 40 years squandering the trust that the world had for her, particularly with the abuse scandals and the money scandals. Pope Francis is providing the basis for trust for vast numbers of people as we speak. He cares about people and it shows. Each of the other two popes were able to do this too, but their efforts were limited by various things. This will be the challenge of this papacy, to continue to encourage trust and curiosity in the millions of people who, no matter what their official standing in a religious organization, have never heard the Greatest Story Ever Told in its entirety (and I don’t mean the movie). I mean the life and mission of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, here and in heaven.

    When all is said and done, each of these popes will have contributed in major ways to the religious understanding, and conversion to God, of people in this period in history. It is not an accident that the works of Pope Benedict include a detailed and beautiful life of Christ, and that his most compelling features as a person were his utter sacrificial honesty and gentleness. It’s not an accident that Pope John Paul II’s most memorable moments were linked to an almost sacrificial death for the Church. This pope will carry the torch. We are in good hands.

  26. Spanish Wikipedia (La Nación):

    “De tendencia tradicionalmente conservadora, ha sido históricamente vía de expresión de sectores afines a la Iglesia Católica, a las Fuerzas Armadas y a los grandes productores agropecuarios de la Argentina. Sin embargo, por sus columnas y notas de opinión han pasado personalidades de diversas vertientes ideológicas.”

    My translation:
    It tends to be traditionally conservative. Historically, it was the means of expression for the Catholic Church, the Armed forces, and large argibusinesses in Argentina. Nonetheless, its columns and opinion pages have included people of diverse ideological backgrounds.

  27. jhayes says:

    “Another time he explained to a few of us students that his watch was not “his watch” but rather “the watch he used,” which had in fact been found in a box of things left by a deceased Jesuit.”

    I read fairly recently that Cardinal O’Malley receives a salary of $35,000/yr. from the Archdiocese of Boston. Since he is a Franciscan, he turns the $35,000 in to the order and requests money from the order when he needs to buy something.

    Having sold the Cardinal’s mansion, he lives in he rectory of the Cathedral.

  28. Eraser says:

    Father, I’m new here & happy to have found your blog. God bless you & give us more priests like you.

    I heard this a few days ago via another source. The more I learn about Pope Francis, the more I love him although I must say I felt that the moment he asked the crowd in St.Peter’s Square to pray for him and bowed his head. I was watching it live and that act, followed immediately by 200,000+ people falling silent & praying with him, had me fighting back tears. He is indeed a class act and so much more – the Holy Spirit has given us a wonderful spiritual father!

    I’ve heard a couple of Argentines say that his personality & way of doing things is very typical, but I will add that it is also characteristic of his Italian roots. His family comes from the Piedmont & among Italians, the Piemontese are also said to be straightforward, somewhat taciturn people who don’t go in for a lot of nonsense. Incidentally, my grandfather & 2 of my great-uncles emigrated from southern Italy to Argentina about the same time as his father and one of my uncles stayed in Buenos Aires (perhaps I have cousins who knew Papa Bergoglio?).

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    Alas, I fear that our Holy Father’s cooking and cleaning days are over. That phone call must have been more than a little bittersweet. We should keep him in our prayers each time we do our own little quotidian chores, because he is now like St. Peter, who with his Apostles found that he needed St. Stephen and the other deacons to do the lion’s share of the care of the poor and the widows. Becoming the Supreme Pontiff and the Servant of the Servants of God means that he is going to do what he wants and go where he wants even less than at any time when he had a superior, but will have his days more than filled with doing what he feels he must do. I have no doubt that he knows it far better than any of us can know. There is a reason he asks everyone he ever sees to pray for him.

    Our Lord did warn St. Peter, after giving him the office of tending and feeding His sheep:
    “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Alas, I fear that our Holy Father’s cooking and cleaning days are over.”

    Really? How long does it take to make a bologna sandwich? Hey, I count that as cooking.

    The Chicken

  31. jhayes says:

    I believe canon law requires bishops to own some property (others may be able to clarify)

    In most dioceses of the US, all of the property of the church (financial assets and every church, school, rectory, etc. building) are owned by the bishop in his official capacity. The legal entity of the archdiocese of Boston is “The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, a corporation sole”

  32. Potato2 says:

    I just don’t buy it. He cancelled his paper. Great. that means that he is classy? Am I high class for switching to Geico? It isn’t humble, cute, classy, or quaint. It is silly. And it will get old REAL fast. He backs away from meaningful symbols and we find some sort of spiritual awakening in a newspaper cancellation. Brother.

  33. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Well then!

    Stay classy, Potato2.

  34. catholicmidwest says:


    A person’s religious consecration doesn’t change when the position changes. Pope Francis has been a Jesuit for his entire adult life. If you’re waiting for him to change, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. (Incidentally, ditto for Cardinal O’Malley.)

    I think the problem we have here is that there hasn’t been a religious order pope in more than 100 years and people aren’t used to looking at it. Expectations have been built up around the way the secular clergy operates because this is where the popes for the last 100+ years have come from.

    This is not a major, major thing by any means, but I’m happy that this pope is from a religious order because I like seeing them again. There are not only two vocational states in the Church, remember. There are clergy, laity and religious: three.

  35. Pingback: For those of you worried that criticism of the Pope is getting out of hand: Fr. Z comes through! « Our Lady and Sheen

  36. boxerpaws1952 says:

    “He backs away from meaningful symbols and we find some sort of spiritual awakening in a newspaper cancellation. ” Yep. Just like we find the miraculous in the mundane.

  37. albinus1 says:

    @Patrick-K: He is still under the Jesuit vows, as explained by Fr. James Martin SJ in everyones “favorite” magazine

    tgarcia2: The article to which you link specifically say that Jesuits who are named bishops are dispensed from their vows of poverty (because bishops need to own stuff) and obedience (because they are now in a position of authority).

  38. albinus1 says:

    I just don’t buy it. He cancelled his paper. Great. that means that he is classy?

    He is classy because he took the time to inform his newpaper vendor personally that he would no longer be needing the paper. This means that the delivery person will not longer need to make the effort to bundle up a paper and leave it at his old residence. Sure, it won’t save the delivery person a lot of time and effort, but it’s something. And if the vendor knows he will be selling one less paper he can start to order one less; perhaps newpaper vendors are liable for the cost of papers they order but don’t sell.

    The classiness lies not necessarily in the act itself, but in the thoughtfulness and consideration it demonstrates.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    How vocations work in the Catholic Church is fascinating, and some of the logic for it is very old.

    -Any individual male can be ordained or non-ordained.
    -Any individual person can be consecrated (vowed) or non-consecrated. Non-consecrated is called secular. I know it sounds like a bad word but it’s the official term for the non-consecrated person. It’s not the same thing as “secularism” which is a system of thought.
    So what you can have are a lot of categories, some overlapping. You can put these ideas into a sort of series of Venn diagrams. (Although not perfectly. When you drill down deeper than the superficial discussion, there are a few historical quirks.)

    Anyway, here’s the basic layout….

    -The average parish priest in the United States is a secular ordained person, meaning that he is not a consecrated member of a religious order. It’s sometimes a realization to people that parish priests don’t belong to religious orders, but the great majority of them don’t. Secular clergy also don’t make vows to the Church; rather, they make promises to their ordinary (their bishop) when they are ordained. Pope Benedict belongs to this category because this is the system he came out of. So did Pope John Paul II and every pope anyone alive remembers.
    -A Carmelite nun or the average Franciscan friar, for instance, are consecrated non-ordained persons, meaning that they are not priests but they are consecrated members of a religious order.
    -A small percentage of Franciscan friars are both consecrated AND ordained. Cardinal O’Malley is one of these. Pope Francis is also both consecrated and ordained. The Jesuits are a clerical order so most Jesuits are both consecrated and ordained. This is not true for some religious orders. Dominicans are also a clerical order, but Franciscans are not, for instance. In addition, some religious orders can’t be clerical because they are composed of women, aka Poor Clares, for instance.
    -The laypeople sitting in the pews with their families are neither ordained nor consecrated to a religious order but they are living out the lay vocation, which is a vocation in its own right, just different from the other ones.

    Which vocation a person is living out is fundamental to their membership and operation as a person in the Church. It’s also very personal and fundamental to their call–their underlying pattern for living out the call to holiness that every human being possesses. This is not something trivial, although it’s something a lot of people don’t like to think about because it’s complicated and it doesn’t always fit in with the way people understand priests and laity in the parish situation.

    The consecration of a religious who becomes pope isn’t going to vanish. It’s part of who he is, part of his call to holiness and his call to service. Therefore, don’t expect Pope Francis to turn into someone who looks like Pius XII, or even like Pope John Paul II, both of whom came up through the secular priesthood. He’s not going to do so.

  40. JimmyA says:

    I love that line at the start of Acts about the things our Lord “coepit facere et docere” – in that order. Our Holy Father appears to be following that pattern – deeds then teaching – which is surely to be commended.

  41. Mary T says:

    “I just don’t buy it. He cancelled his paper. Great. that means that he is classy?”

    He personally thanked someone in what others would see as the most minor of minor capacities for performing a service for him. It was very classy.

    One thing this pope does AND THE TWO PREVIOUS POPES DID REPEATEDLY (lest we imagine that Pope Francis invented this idea, or the act of kissing the disabled, or the act of wading into a crowd to greet ordinary people) is to thank the service people at various events, the “behind the scenes” people, the cooks, ushers, etc. I have seen this many times, yet have never seen the mainstream media reporting that some political bigshot is doing it.

    BTW the baristas of Rome loved B16. As Cardinal he too dressed shabbily, with a shabby briefcase, and was often stopped by tourists to ask for directions, as they thought he was an average priest.
    We forget these stories in the excitement of a new pope.

    All three popes were classy, indeed.

  42. boxerpaws1952 says:

    In Father Z’s defense look at what he said EXACTLY and do not read more into it than he meant.
    “I am not on board with the jettisoning of meaning-laden symbols, but this sort of thing is, simply put, classy.” he is NOT on board w/the jettisoning of meaning laden symbols.” Meaning laden actions give example.
    As for the Pope Emirtus staying on just a little longer. We all wish that were the case. However,how much would a little longer have been? I’m sure we’d keep saying a little longer after a little longer was up. You said ‘very strange’. Let’s suppose His Holiness Benedict the XVI had stayed a little longer(a month,2 months?)? Would the outcome have changed? I respect His Holiness decision. It must have been on his mind for some time. He didn’t make this decision at the last minute. He was only waiting for an appropriate time to announce it. I believe what he said; he did it for the ‘good of the Church.’ I trust his judgement and his words that he did so with a ‘clear conscience.’ I don’t think we’re seeing the clear picture yet but i do know he did not look well the last few weeks of his Pontificate.
    Curious though; How IS he election of Pope Francis more like the end times than Obama?

  43. Potato2 says:

    “The problem here is that we have all over the world and very clearly in Argentina, all the historic enemies of the church jumping of happiness with this election.”

    That is the best way I can describe my feelings.

    Ok, fine, I’ll say it. I’m a little scared.

    Troubled times ahead methinks.

  44. Giuseppe says:

    Father Z, you hit the nail on the head. Papa F is one class act. And it’s not an act.

    BTW – love your phrase “the stable residents” – call me a farmboy, but I immediately pictured horses!

  45. jmgarciajr says:

    By my lights “La Nación” is a (more or less) a center-right newspaper.

  46. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Is the pope still a Jesuit? How many people are not reading Canon 705.

  47. DCMArg says:

    I’m from Argentina too and I consider positive the choice of La Nacion. I know sometimes are ignorant about Church issues (all our newspapers are, anyway) but ignorance is different than aversion. La Nacion is a better choice than the tabloids Clarin or Pagina12. Especially the last one which is the preferred paper of liberal “priests”.

  48. boxerpaws1952 says:

    I don’t think His Holiness could have stayed on another 3 or 4 yrs. As it is,i think we were blessed to have him as long as we did. He looked terrible the last month of his Pontificate and i am convinced he had more health issues than ppl were saying.
    Don’t be afraid to say what you think of Obama.Nobody is going to jump on you believe me.
    The other is THE POPE. i understand that but don’t understand your implications.Sorry. i can be slow.
    I can’t speak with any historical context to Card Pacelli’s visit to Argentina. My best point of reference is Blessed John Paul II, Benedict the XVI and now Pope Francis. We have been going down and down because some Catholisc and a huge number of them in the United States do not think it is necessary to obey what the Church teaches anymore. Many do not even attend Mass. I think we will end up seeing a small more faithful laity but i also think this is why we have a call for the New Evangelization. To go out as missionaries to bring back those who have fallen away.The secular world has a big pull on these ppl. It comes down to, “I will not serve” and people who have made themselves god.Hedonism and moral relativism is what the Church- and now Pope Francis-is up against.

  49. boxerpaws1952 says:

    post script; i don’t think the media is going to be head over heels for Pope Francis for long. If they eventually figure out he is not going to suit their purposes one of 2 things will happen. 1 most will turn on him soon enough 2 Maybe a few will have a true conversion of heart.

  50. McCall1981 says:

    @ boxerpaws1952

    “post script; i don’t think the media is going to be head over heels for Pope Francis for long. If they eventually figure out he is not going to suit their purposes one of 2 things will happen. 1 most will turn on him soon enough 2 Maybe a few will have a true conversion of heart.”

    This is what I think/hope will happen too.

  51. The Sicilian Woman says:

    While my first impressions of Pope Francis were very good, I have been increasingly worried about his departures from tradition. I’m not one to want to put a happy face on anything of concern and pretend that all will be okay.

    That being said, I see nothing wrong with Fr. Z. (or anyone) sharing a story like this. It’s a sweet moment from the mundane, and does say a little something about our Pope.

    I also have thought along lines similar to those of SidCundiff and catholicmidwest above. I do not want to see Pope Francis dumb down his office, nor show any weakness in defending or promoting the Faith, but I’ve wondered if his personal touches and such are not only his inborn nature (difficult to shake at 76 years), but also his way of “catching flies with honey.” Those who hate or are indifferent to the Church might be more likely to soften towards it, and perhaps, with a whole lot of grace, might be drawn into or back to it. While this is what I am hoping, I know this is not necessarily what is at play. All we can do is pray for Pope Francis to accept the graces and guidance of the Holy Spirit as he progresses in his role, and strive for holiness for ourselves.

  52. Lavrans says:

    I agree, Sicilian Woman. Its a bit like His Holiness, Benedict XVI, when he spoke on condoms a few years ago in an interview. What he said was correct and did not signal a change in Church teaching. But because it was so subtle and required a level of sophistication that the modern media does not possess, it was completely misunderstood. I too worry about Francis in a similar way. I do not expect him to run afoul of Church teaching, but I do expect many to misunderstand his actions and words.

    But, alas, the same was true for Christ Himself. This world will not be perfect.

  53. mike cliffson says:

    I hope someone thinks to get him mate, yerba mate , in Rome.
    Argentines, uruguyans, and round that way, function better with it.

  54. SteelBiretta says:

    @The Sicilian Woman: I’ve seen a lot of comments lately on secular sources along the lines of “I haven’t been to Church in years, but I like what I’ve been reading about this guy” or “I’m not Catholic, but I love what he’s doing.” It’s nice to see, particularly when comments on any secular article about the Catholic Church are usually rants about pedophile priests. I think Pope Francis likely has two objectives: (1) getting those who have fallen away– for whatever reason– to consider returning and (2) to show the secular/non-Catholic world that the Church has an important role to play in society.

    I think the latter is particularly important. Secular forces have found that there are two issues with fairly broad public support that the Church is not willing to compromise on– contraception and same-sex marriage. They are using both to try to weaken the Church. Their ultimate goal, I think, is to go after its tax-exempt status. If we are to counter such an attack, we are going to need allies– people who, while not believers, recognize that the world will be worse off with a weakened Church.

  55. fizzwizz says:

    I wonder how many things Benedict did like this but not much was made of it because virtually all of the secular media hated him. Just a thought

  56. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    @Dr. Peters: Only a few enjoy reading the canons for entertainment! :-)

  57. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    Okay, I’ve read 705 and it says: CAN. 705† A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute (Religiosus ad episcopatum evectus instituti sui sodalis remanet) but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition.

    So, Dr. Peters, it appears that he does remain a Jesuit. Hmmm….am I missing something?

  58. Ed the Roman says:

    Father, I believe his point was that the vows only bind as far as the new bishop judges it well that they do.

  59. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Qui legit canones, indiget nihil.

  60. Potato2 says:


    So the fact that the unchurched love what they believe he stands for is a good thing?

    When Liberals, feminists, and dissenters are giddy I dont think that is a good thing.

    I think a big”Uh oh” is coming but it wont be from the media, (they of course will move on to the next shiny thing) But it will be from the Church herself.

  61. AdMajoremDeiGloriam says:

    Dr. Peters: Since you didn’t end with a question mark, I think you have a pretty good sense of the number.

    Fr. Martin seems to have amended his article. It now reads (emphasis mine):

    “But the man is still considered a Jesuit by tradition–if not canonically. I’ll leave it to the canonists to figure that one out: I’ve gotten multiple responses. Though Canon 705 states: ‘A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition.’ And usually they themselves consider themselves as member of their orders, even after their ordination to the episcopacy.”

    I’m not sure if Fr. Martin is just avoiding weighing in, or if he’s suggesting something I can’t see in the canon. I’m no canonist, but it seems to read as Rev. Vasquez and Ed the Roman have suggested.

  62. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    Personally given the canon, I wonder if the Pope had taken the fourth vow of obedience to the Pope, and if so, how that interferes with his current position. :-P

  63. mamajen says:

    My understanding of Can 705 is that A) Pope Francis is most definitely still a Jesuit and B) he is not subject to his obligations as a Jesuit if he deems them impossible to fulfill in his new role.

    This may very well explain many of his decisions to date. Even for lay people it’s difficult and worrying sometimes determining whether our circumstances truly free us from an obligation.

  64. SteelBiretta says:


    “So the fact that the unchurched love what they believe he stands for is a good thing?”

    If they love him for a good reason– that he is an example of the virtue of charity– yes, I think that is a good thing. If it causes some to be unchurched no longer, then it is an even better thing.

    “When Liberals, feminists, and dissenters are giddy I dont think that is a good thing.”

    Whether they are giddy now is of no moment to me. They will not get the change they want, from this Pope or any other.

  65. The Masked Chicken says:

    Allow me to demonstrate, once again, why I would be a terror in law school.

    Jesuits, such as the Pope before he was in ecclesial office, took the normal vows of a Jesuit. They are (from Wikipedia):

    “Final Vows for the fully professed follow upon tertianship, wherein the Jesuit pronounces perpetual solemn vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the Fourth vow, unique to Jesuits, of special obedience to the pope in matters regarding mission, promising to undertake any mission laid out in the Formula of the Institute the pope may choose.

    The professed of the Four Vows take, in addition to these solemn perpetual vows five additional Simple Vows: not to consent to any mitigation of the Society’s observance of poverty; not to “ambition” or seek any prelacies (ecclesiastical offices) outside the Society; not to ambition any offices within the Society; a commitment to report any Jesuit who does so ambition; and, if a Jesuit does become a bishop, to permit the general to continue to provide advice to that bishop, though the vow of obedience to Jesuit superiors is not operative over matters the man undertakes as bishop. Under these vows, no Jesuit may “campaign” or even offer his name for appointment or election to any office, and if chosen for one must remind the appointing authority (even the Pope) of these Vows—if the Pope commands that the Jesuit accept ordination as a bishop anyway, the Jesuit must keep an open ear to the Jesuit general as an influence.”

    Now, [rubbing hands together, gleefully], since a Jesuit is under obedience to the Pope with regards to the missions, he can send himself anywhere and he must obey. Likewise, he is under obedience to the Pope, per Can. 705, so he cannot disobey himself, except, unless he wants to, because, you know, he is the Pope and he can let himself off of the hook. Now, he can be poor if he wants to, but he can order himself not to be. He could order himself to be poor, but he could also suspend that when he wants to. He could dismiss himself from the Society. Heck, he could disband the Society (oh, the irony!) except for himself.

    He has to accept council from the superior of the Society, except when he doesn’t want to, because, you know, he can override the superior. He must not have sought the office and must report this to his superior if he did, except that he doesn’t have to because he is Pope. He must remind himself of the vows he took, except that he is not bound by them if he doesn’t want to be. He can force himself to become Pope, but only after he is Pope.

    The problem, here, is that one cannot vow obedience to oneself, which is essentially what Can. 705 causes to happen if one is a religious who becomes Pope. The law was not written this way in times past, I suspect. You are then in a position of obeying yourself, except when you don’t want to because you’ve changed the conditions, because, you know, you can.

    The problem here, and it is an epic fail for the Canon, is that it becomes self-referential when applied to the office of Pope. The Pope, then, becomes a member of his own set. This leads to Russell’s paradox. Now, paradoxes have no truth valuation, so, under standard Aristotelian logic, the Law has no truth valuation. Thus, it is impossible to prove that the law has been satisfied or not. Under Aczel’s non-foundational interpretation of set theory, such a Pope forms a hyperset with a self-referential node. He reduces to a class of one.

    Thus, the Pope is still a Jesuit if he wants to be, but he can’t really prove it, since in order to be a Jesuit he must fulfill the vows, but in order to be Pope, he doesn’t have to. He can order himself not to fulfill the vows and yet, still be a Jesuit. So, he both is and is not a Jesuit. He is a meta-Jesuit.

    I hope I’ve cleared that up :)

    The Chicken

  66. mamajen says:

    @The Masked Chicken

    LOL! I think you’d put your law school teachers into retirement!

    It seems to me the vow of obedience to the pope would be an example of one obligation that he definitely can’t fulfill as pope, so therefore it no longer applies to him. Since that doesn’t apply, I’m not as convinced that he can dispense with the other vows just because he wants to now that he’s pope–the law makes it sound as though he has to have a good reason that he can’t meet those obligations. Then again, it doesn’t specifically mention a Jesuit becoming pope, so who knows. I’d love to see Dr. Peters do a blog post on this.

  67. SteelBiretta says:

    @mamajen: I think you’re right. The provision on obedience to the pope would not apply in the case of the pope, since it would be absurd and unfulfillable. As for the other obligations, the pope has the power to “unbind” obligations that would interfere with his duties as pope. But he doesn’t have to. It sounds like Pope Francis thinks he can reconcile his vow of poverty and his duties as Pope and does not feel the need to unbind himself.

  68. maryh says:

    @Potato2 When Liberals, feminists, and dissenters are giddy I dont think that is a good thing.

    I think that many of the people who fall into those categories believe it is not possible for someone who truly cares about the poor and the marginalized to actually be against things like contraception, gay “marriage” and not ordaining women. Mother Theresa was a challenge to them, but I think they managed to write her off as being too “out of touch” (or maybe even a bit of sexism there; I seem to see it more among the liberals than the conservatives).

    So yes, a lot of them think that BECAUSE he cares about the poor, about unwed mothers, about AIDs victims, it means that he MUST really be for the things on their agenda. The leaders probably don’t think this way. But I think the ordinary, basically decent people who are liberals do. And when they find out it isn’t an either/or, I wonder how many will be truly touched and reconsider.

  69. MAJ Tony says:

    @jhayes, I think you sort of answered your own technically incorrect statement in your follow-up post. There is no “Cardinal’s mansion,” (legally speaking) as that would imply that the cardinalate was appended to a particular local Church, in this case, the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Boston.

  70. Hugh says:

    Nice to hear this – and to see that Pope Francis is sticking with tradition on this point:
    Before he was Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger used to correspond regularly with a ordinary lay Catholic acquaintance of mine here in Australia – someone whom he’d never met in the flesh. Astonishingly, after he was made Pope, he continued to do so.

  71. Suburbanbanshee says:

    When St. Albert the Great was made a bishop, his Dominican brothers were glad he’d been dispensed from poverty… because then he could buy books and give them to the order houses!

  72. Potato2 says:


    ” I wonder how many will be truly touched and reconsider.”

    None, Zero Zilch.
    But if they can they will try to “Change” the Church with the liberal deceit they believe.

    Do you pay attention to the agenda these people have?

    The Pope is being played before he even gets his feet wet.

    And so is anyone who does not see the diabolical influence here. Have you not seen what this ideology worships and what it does to every institution it gets its hands on? Take a good look at our world.

  73. Catholictothecore says:

    Thanks, Fr. Z. The Class Act category/folder for Pope Francis will get mighty full soon!

  74. boxerpaws1952 says:

    not to worry has already begun. I just got back from Glenn Beck’s the Blaze typing like mad in defense of the Church AND Pope Francis.
    The attacks are coming sooner than we thought.
    ” nor show any weakness” I believe our new Pope put that to rest the day he was installed as Pope. He mentioned it in his homily. Tenderness is not a sign of weakness. I’m not sure i would perceive his affection and warmth towards ppl as a weakness. So far he has spoken out boldly. He has a simple way of putting things but i don’t think the media should let that fool them. We shall see.

  75. maryh says:

    @Potato2 Having been a card-carrying feminist, member of NOW and of NARAL for many years, I think I have an inkling. I’m talking about the average liberal, like most of my relatives and siblings.

  76. Giuseppe says:

    I saw 20-25 unfamiliar faces at Mass on Sunday. I saw 3 people I haven’t seen in years. Every Catholic I work with is talking about Pope Francis being a humble man, and they do so with a twinkle in their eyes.

  77. Potato2 says:

    @ maryh

    I’m glad you saw the light. :)
    But really the only thing that converts is Truth.
    They will only see what they want to see out of this.
    I’m telling you. The average liberal as you put it will have it drilled in their heads for a month that this Pope is liberal and then they will move on. Forever believing that if it weren’t for the “curia” Pope Francis would be ordaining Michele Obama as we speak.
    Their knowledge of the Truth is lacking. And the only cure for that is Truth. They won’t get it chasing a liberal dream of women priests and condoms. But that is what they believe will happen.

    Liberals, Traditionalists, and the average Joe in the pew and you and me are in for a surprise. Read disappointment.

  78. catholicmidwest says:

    Boxerpaws1952, you said, “… not think it is necessary to obey what the Church teaches anymore. Many do not even attend Mass. I think we will end up seeing a small more faithful laity but i also think this is why we have a call for the New Evangelization. To go out as missionaries to bring back those who have fallen away.The secular world has a big pull on these ppl. It comes down to, “I will not serve” and people who have made themselves god.Hedonism and moral relativism is what the Church- and now Pope Francis-is up against.

    No. People aren’t falling away because they are participating in any concerted rebellion or anything like that. It’s not even that they know what Christianity is and they’re just being naughty. No. That’s not what’s going on in the great majority of cases.
    Most people in the West now do not know Jesus Christ. Either they’ve never heard his story, or they didn’t understand it, or they can’t integrate it into the kinds of religious experience they’ve seen and maybe experienced earlier in their lives. Many Catholics are included in this. They don’t know how to place the life of Christ, the words of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ into their lives in any way that makes sense to them. They don’t even know where to begin most of the time. Helping all that to come together in discipleship for the first time is the New Evangelization.

  79. catholicmidwest says:

    Some of this ignorance about Christ is so deep that some people have no “bridge of trust” that binds them to Christianity at all. When this happens, they don’t listen and they may even scoff or hate. The fact that people are showing up “out of the woodwork” because of this pope is wonderful. It is possible for trust to start growing even on such a tenuous basis as listening to someone good that you’d like to know. This is the first step and it might turn into downright curiosity, which could only be good.

    If you recall, both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict had this effect on some people too. It’s a good thing, not a bad one.

  80. maryh says:

    @Potato2 And yet, they don’t all just move on. The Truth actually does convert people. Will Pope Francis be able to get through to more or different people than Pope emeritus Benedict? Time will tell.

    So far, what he’s done makes a lot of sense to me. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing and that it will work on a lot of ordinary liberals. I’m not saying he isn’t sincere – just that I think he knows how to reach this audience.

    And I noticed that he’s now connecting “Bishop of Rome” with “Pontiff”. He’s introducing his other titles when he can connect them to something concrete.

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    It depends on what you mean by “Truth.” If you mean a lot of rules and customs and politics, no. That doesn’t convert very many people. It never did and it never will.
    But if you mean Jesus Christ and the Truth of the Kingdom of God, yes. That does convert people.

  82. BobP says:

    I too don’t get it. Like when my boss tells me he just cancelled a project and I can go find another job, he does what he has to do, but I certainly don’t praise him for it.

    Now it might have meant something if he had asked that his copy were sent to a homeless shelter instead, but their crying over rubber bands not coming back? C’mon.

  83. boxerpaws1952 says:

    “No. People aren’t falling away because they are participating in any concerted rebellion or anything like that.” i bet to differ but we may just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  84. boxerpaws1952 says:

    oops. Beg to differ. We don’t need to argue though. We agree TOTALLY on the need for a new evangelization.IMHO it may not even be an organized rebellion(though it is in some cases)-it can be an individual one. Take it from someone who’s been there,did that.

  85. MikeM says:

    1) I’ve found this blog’s treatment of Pope Francis to be refreshing amidst the other Catholic blogs/media. Charitable, mostly positive, but willing to be critical. It’s a nice break from the coverage that treats him as if he can do no wrong and wants to canonize him for wearing black loafers, and, on the other side, that which obsessively seeks the smallest thing that they can spin into evidence that the Antichrist has been seated on Peter’s Chair.

    It’s OK to be happy to have a good man as Pope without abandoning all critical faculties.

    2) I think that stories like this DO go a long way to demonstrate that our Holy Father is a very good man. To me, the story isn’t so much that he called to cancel his own newspaper. There certainly wouldn’t be anything wrong with a Pope, especially during the very busy first couple of weeks of his pontificate, having a secretary handle a few administrative matters for him. I think that the part that reflects very well on him is that, as Archbishop, he took the time to develop a friendly relationship with the newspaper salesman. I think that the way we treat the people with whom we have incidental encounters says a lot about us. Even without being rude, it’s easy to see a store clerk, a janitor, a contractor, etc., as just the role that they play because, in a sense, that’s the full impact that they have on you. It shows a surprisingly uncommon consciousness of others to always see these people as full people worth getting to know, even if only in brief bits of conversation. Plus, it’s easy to play the part of a good person when the spotlight is on, but harder to keep that going with everyone you see in a day, so these sorts of things seem to be more reliable signs of person’s true self.

    From whatever I had seen and heard of Card. Brogoglio before his election (and, honestly, I’m not sure what all of it was), I had developed the impression that he was a really decent person. Stories like this one reinforce that.

  86. boxerpaws1952 says:

    Note to CatholicMidWest. you said, “No. People aren’t falling away because they are participating in any concerted rebellion or anything like that. It’s not even that they know what Christianity is and they’re just being naughty. No. That’s not what’s going on in the great majority of cases.
    Most people in the West now do not know Jesus Christ. Either they’ve never heard his story, or they didn’t understand it, or they can’t integrate it into the kinds of religious experience they’ve seen and maybe experienced earlier in their lives. Many Catholics are included in this.’ after some thought about your comment have to admit you have a very valid point. Maybe it’s a little of BOTH?

  87. Rachel says:

    Lavrans, I’ve had the same thought you expressed: “I do not expect him to run afoul of Church teaching, but I do expect many to misunderstand his actions and words.” Particularly if he often speaks off the cuff. But I try not to worry. As long as people have “that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding”, it’ll be all right, and people who don’t have good will wouldn’t have understood anyway.

  88. Kerry says:

    On his radio program Bill Bennett often says, “How do you tell a crooked stick? Put a straight stick next to it”. Pope Francis is the straight stick. [Are you suggesting by this that Pope Benedict is a crooked stick?]

  89. catholicmidwest says:

    The crooked stick/straight stick thing is a comparison, but it doesn’t say who Pope Francis is being compared to. Bill Bennett is out in the general culture, where there is a perception that the Church is corrupt, due to our various scandals. And as any good performer/commentator does he tends to stand in his listener’s shoes and deliver the news as they want to hear it, for good or for ill. Perhaps the comparison he has in mind is far more general than the comparison of 2 popes. Perhaps he’s saying that Pope Francis is the “straight stick” when compared to “some people” we’ve heard about that Bill Bennett or his viewers might think of when he thinks of the Catholic Church. It’s a very generic comment but many people live on that plane.

  90. Magash says:

    Since Dr. Peters brought up Canon 705 and the Holy Father’s status as a Jesuit (he’s still one) I though since others mention his vow of poverty and his status as a bishop I though I should bring up the fact that Canon 706 only released, him when he was a bishop, from his vow of poverty as much as was necessary for him to act in that capacity. So, while I don’t know his thinking on the matter, I would suppose that Francis believed that to have lived in the Archbishop’s mansion was not necessary for him to exercise the office of bishop. In that case to fulfill his vow of poverty he would therefore have to live in more modest surroundings, which he did.
    Likewise I have heard talk that he might not live in the Papal Apartment. I could see that he might also believe that he could not and still fulfill his vow of personal poverty. He needs an office and will require a personal secretary, so as not to be overwhelmed by the requirements of the Petrine office. But he could actually live in a very modest set of rooms if he so desired, provided the actual logistic and security needs were taken care of. I would not be surprised to see this.
    This might also explain his reticence to take on some of the more ostentatious trappings of the Papacy. The line between what is personal to the Pope and what is required by the office could be rather fuzzy and is entirely at his discretion. I would prefer to see him follow St. Francis in this and maintain the dignity and beauty of Papal ceremonies, while appreciating his desire to personal attire outside those ceremonial occasions.

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