REPOST: Pope Francis, Complete Pray Tell Coverage

Editor’s note: Today is the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013. Below is a story Pray Tell posted 12 days after his election, reporting on the whirlwind of changes at the beginning of his term.

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Pray Tell  has given extensive coverage to the election of Pope Francis.

Two Pray Tell stories are especially important to get your bearings and make sense of it all:

Pope Francis, Liturgist” by Rita Ferrone and “Reading the Language of Papal Clothing” by Jonathan Day.

Anthony Ruff spoke of a liturgical revolution over at NCR, and then his post on “Pope Francis’ Liturgical Revolution” quickly got over 100 comments. Consensus seems to be that it’s mostly a revolution in court ceremonial, which of course spills over into the papal liturgy.

What happened? Court finery was all laid out for the new pope. But he rejected the red cape for his first public appearance. The rumor that he said “Carnival time is over” seems unlikely. [It seemed unlikely then, but after five years of his off-the-cuff comments, it seems less unlikely now. – Ed.] But his first impression was a shocker – noted by Teresa Berger, Fritz Bauerschmidt, and Anthony Ruff. His first Mass with the cardinals had a homily that struck Teresa Berger.

The election raised alarms for Latin Mass Fans, and CNS reported “doubts and regrets among some in the Vatican about Pope Francis’ ‘abrupt change in style’.” Even Slate, of all places, gave voice to the  fears of traditionalists.

Francis moved Pope Benedict’s candles out of the way, and he doesn’t wear cuff links. As cardinal in Argentina he broke church rules by washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday. The contrast to Pope Benedict was noted on Palm Sunday. He asked Argentinians to forego travel expenses to his inauguration and give the money to the poor.

When Pope Francis is in Motion, Anthony Ruff plays with what he might be saying to the cardinals. The pope sits in the back row before Mass, and doesn’t put “PP” in his signature. He pays his own hotel bill. His coat of arms is simple and is getting mixed reviews. He doesn’t call himself “pope,” and he isn’t using his apostolic palace. He likes serious/folk/classical Argentinian sacred music.

An amazing early news report – that Pope Francis was inviting 3,000 poor people to Holy Thursday Mass in St Peter’s – was superseded by another even more amazing report: he is celebrating the Mass at a juvenile prison.

His first approval ratings in the US are high compared to his predecessor at this point – 88% and then 94%.

Jonathan Day poked fun at Vatican staff who Latinized the tweets of the new pope. Pontifex Limerix gave us some limericks. The Onion was the first to report Pope Francis’s resignation.

What all this means for policy is still unknown. We can only guess how he’ll handle the embattled U.S. sisters. He didn’t get along well with a very traditional new order in Argentina. He reportedly supported gay unions in Argentina and said that the Anglican ordinariate for traditionalist Anglicans coming over to Rome is “quite unnecessary.”

Stay tuned.


  1. Why is Pray Tell perpetuating the mistaken view that the candles of Pope Francis were situated differently from how they would have been were Pope Benedict to have been celebrating Mass?

    By the way, Andrea Tornielli has an alternative version of the Mozzetta story that seems more plausible, and reminded me of an interview given by Mgr Marini. In it he said that BXVI hadn’t instructed him to do very much, rather he (Mgr Marini) tried to anticipate the liturgical wishes of the Holy Father. Might one assume that Mgr Marini is trying to do the same for the current Holy Father – hence the question as to whether HH would like to wear the mozzetta and HH’s response of ‘I (would) prefer not’

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