Dear brothers and sisters,
Tonight Australian time we will see the inauguration of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, standing in a line reaching back to the Apostle Peter.
In the few days since his election, the Pope’s words and gestures have been right at every turn, and it’s no surprise that people from far and wide have welcomed his election. A word much used to describe his style is “refreshing”. The gentle yet powerful teaching ministry of Pope Benedict was a great gift, and so too is the refreshing simplicity and humility of Pope Francis.
Social justice and love of the poor will be at the heart of his papal ministry, as it has been through his years as bishop in Argentina. But this will look resolutely to God as the true source of justice and true lover of the poor. For if it doesn’t look to God, we run the risk of becoming, in the words of Pope Francis himself, “a compassionate NGO”. Nothing wrong with compassionate NGOs, but that’s not what the Church is.
I invite all of you to join me this evening in praying that God will bless Pope Francis with good health and the spiritual strength he will need to meet the great challenges he faces. Let’s pray together that Pope Francis will be equipped in every way by the God who has called him, so that he will be able to guide the barque of Peter through the storms of this time to the haven of peace found in Jesus, “the first-born from the dead”.
Most Rev Mark Coleridge
Archbishop of Brisbane
March 19, 2013