Arrivederci Roma

March 20, 2013

Just as I was beginning to get used to Roman life, it is now time to go home. I have been in Rome since February 27, and time has flown at the speed of light. It seems that at my age, times flies really fast. In the Eternal City, I have lived moments of incredible and almost surreal intensity. 

With hindsight, it occurred to me that I have known six popes including Pope Francis, one of whom is still alive. As I recall, previous conclaves were always marked by the death and funeral of the Pope. It has been quite different in recent weeks.  

Pope Benedict surprised many by announcing his resignation from the Petrine ministry. The 2013 conclave, it seems to me, gave a different flavor to the life of the universal Church, and perhaps marked the start of a renewal of our way of experiencing a conclave. I had the privilege of being at the forefront and of observing how the Cardinals were preparing for this election.  

The general congregations undoubtedly helped the Cardinals to get to know each other and to discuss the current needs of the Church and the difficulties it is currently experiencing, which ultimately seem to be the same everywhere in the world, with some slight differences.  

We know the outcome. The election of Pope Francis brought a sudden breath of fresh air, simplicity and humility to our Church. The journalists did not elect this pope from the Americas. I can imagine the Lord thumbing his nose at those reporters. As much as I gradually discovered and learned to love Pope Benedict, so do I feel close to Pope Francis, who apparently remembers he was once ordained deacon. (Allow me the free publicity!)  

I drank incredible amounts of coffee of all kinds since my arrival. I hear comments of ordinary people on the election, and I dare say that the reactions are generally very positive. Picture a pope who pays his bill himself, who takes to the streets to greet the faithful unable to find a place in his church, who personally phones a collaborator at the Casa Del Clero on his cell phone to thank her for the services she rendered. This is a pope whose ministry bodes well. All that's left to do now is to throw open the windows of the Vatican so as to let in the Holy Spirit's breath.  

Thus end these Chronicles of Rome!  

Richard Saint-Louis, d.p. 


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