Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
19 Mar 2013
19 Mar 2013
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell will attend the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis, the world's 266th pontiff at St Peter's Basilica in Rome today where more than one million pilgrims are expected to crowd into St Peter's Square and the surrounding streets to celebrate the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Speaking from Rome to radio host, Alan Jones on 2GB this morning, Cardinal Pell described today's inauguration of the new Bishop of Rome and the Church of Rome, the successor of St Peter, and the beginning of the new Petrine Ministry, as an historic event. He went on to predict that what the world had seen so far of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit, the first non-European pontiff in more than 1200 years and the first pope to come from South America was "just the start of the story."
"The fact he is from South America means a tremendous amount," he said pointing out that half the Catholics in the world today are from Latin America.
Although the new Holy Father was elected less than a week ago, Cardinal Pell said Pope Francis had already demonstrated that he had a sure popular touch and was able to preach in a way people could easily understand and to which they could relate.
"I was having a cup of coffee in Rome yesterday when two waiters spoke to me about Pope Francis and after hearing his first homily, wanted to know if he was really like he appeared to be. I was able to tell them 'yes' and that 'what you see is what you get,'" the Cardinal said adding that he had known Pope Francis for 10 or 15 years.
"We have worked together on committees and councils. I am certainly not a close friend but we know one another and I have great admiration for him."
With his advocacy of the poor and oppressed, his letter to Argentineans telling them not to come to Rome for his Inauguration Mass but instead to donate the money they would have spent on a trip "in some gesture of charity to the needy," together with his humility and the simple lifestyle he adopted as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, choosing to live in a small city apartment, use public transport and cook for himself, Pope Francis has broken new ground.
Last Sunday when he appeared on the balcony of St Peter's Square to pray the Angelus, a banner waved by some members of the 150,000-strong crowd proclaimed: "Pope Francis You are the Springtime of the Church."
"I hope this is the case," Cardinal Pell said this morning and praised the new pontiff not only as a champion for the poor and marginalised but as a man who could make decisions, particularly hard decisions and stick by them.
"Far and away from the most important tasks he faces there are some things here in Rome that need cleaning up, and I think he is the man to make some progress on that score," His Eminence believes.
The fact the new Pope's parents were born in Italy before emigrating to Argentina where he was born, has won him much warm hearted support in Rome, the Cardinal said and was further endorsed by his decision to take the name of Italy's patron saint: St Francis of Assisi.
"The Pope is first of all Bishop of Rome and first leader of the community here (Rome) and obviously has to look after his own people to start with, and his links to Italy have been welcomed and celebrated by the Italians," he explained.
Today's Inauguration will be attended by more than one million pilgrims including a large contingent from Latin America together with many of the world leaders, statesmen, dignitaries, politicians, royalty and delegations from other Christian denominations as well as those of other faiths.
Among those who will attend the Inaugural Mass in St Peter's Square will be Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Duke of Gloucester representing Queen Elizabeth who is still recovering from a virus, Joe Biden, Vice President of the US representing American President Barack Obama and Francois Hollande, President of France. Six reigning sovereigns including Prince Albert of Monaco and King Albert II of Belgium will also attend, along with 31 heads of state, 11 heads of government, 16 Jewish representatives and 33 delegations representing Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities from Asia, Europe and the Americas. In addition Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II will attend, so too will Metropolitan Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Fykse Tveit and for the first time since the Great Schism of the Church into Eastern and Western Confessions in 1054, the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I will be at the inauguration of a new Holy Father. John McCarthy, Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See will also attend.
But of all those who are travelling to Rome for the Inauguration of Pope Francis the most controversial figure is Zimbabwe despot, 89-year-old Robert Mugabe.
"The man has enormous front and enormous cheek," Cardinal Pell said this morning remembering how Mugabe also insisted on attending the funeral of Blessed John Paul II. "His (Mugabe's) record at home is quite appalling and I think it quite incongruous that he will be present today."
Almost as controversial is Argentine President Cristina de Kirchner using a private audience with Pope Francis yesterday to ask him to intervene for the return of the Falkland Islands by the British to Argentina. De Kirchner as well as her late husband who was also President, have long been at loggerheads, not over the politics of who should have jurisdiction over the Falklands but instead over the government's legalisation of abortion, same sex marriage and adoption of children by same sex couples.
The new Pope was an outspoken opponent of these laws and in accordance with Church doctrine remains firmly against same sex marriage, abortion and children being raised by same sex couples.
Today's Inauguration Ceremony will be streamed live on Xt3.com including the lead up to this important event with live coverage of St Peter's Square begining from mid morning today.
The Inauguration of Pope Francis can be seen on Sky News from 7.30 pm tonight.
The Pope will leave Domus Santa Maria where he has been staying for St Peter's Square at around 9 am Roman time (7 pm EST). Once at the Square he will move through the throng of pilgrims in an open jeep or a Popemobile. At 9.15 am (7.15 pm EST) he will enter the Sacristy of St Peter's Basilica via the Pieta side with the Mass planned for 9.30 am (7.30 pm EST).
Once inside the Basilica, the Pope will pray beside St Peter's tomb under the high altar as trumpets announce the "Tu es Petrus." The pontiff will venerate the tomb with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Easter Rite Catholic Churches. He will then be presented with the Papal Pallium, Fisherman's Ring and Book of the Gospels which had been placed on the tomb the previous evening.
Pope Francis will then return to the main floor of the Basilica from where the procession of cardinals, superior generals of the Jesuits, the Order of Friars Minor and other leaders will make their way from the Basilica and through the entrance into the Square.
The Mass in St Peter's Square will be concelebrated by all 140 cardinals currently in Rome, including Cardinal Pell together with the Patriarchs, the Major Easter Rite Archbishops, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, the two Superior Generals from the order of Friars Minor and the President and Vice President of the Jesuits.
In all 180 will concelebrate the Mass.
As today, 19 March is also the Feast Day of St Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and patron saint of the Universal Church, the Solemnity of St Joseph Mass will be celebrated.
For those watching on television or the live streaming on Xt3.com, the left side of the Sagrato (the porch of the Basilica) is where 250 bishops and archbishops will be seated along with ecclesiastics, and delegations from other Churches and Christian confessions. On the right-hand side of St Peter's Square will be the delegations from various countries, heads of state, ministers and royalty. On the St Peter's statue side of the piazza is where delegations of Muslims, Jews and other religious will be seated along with 1200 priests and seminarians from across the world. The diplomatic corps including Australia's ambassador to the Holy See John McCarthy will be seated on the St Paul's Statue side of St Peter's Square with other civil authorities and representatives.
In the rest of the Square it will be standing room for more than 300,000 pilgrims without tickets with many hundreds of thousands more watching the ceremony on big screens from streets surrounding the Square.
Watch the Inauguration of Pope Francis this evening when the entire two hour ceremony will be streamed live on xt3.com. Streaming from St Peter's Square in the lead up to the Inauguration Ceremony began this morning so go to xt3.com and be part of the excitement as crowds gather in the square from 1 am Italian time, 11 am our time. The ceremony can also be seen tonight on Sky News from 7.30 pm.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY