Apr 25, 2013, 10:00 AM
Wednesday, 6th March 2013, the whole world waited to be surprised with the election in the Catholic Church of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio from Argentina. It was a surprise because there were speculations naming many Cardinals other than him. He was the least thought of and the least mentioned.
When Cardinal Bergolio appeared on the Papal balcony he was announced as Pope Francis I, a seventy-six year old Cardinal who had served his native Argentina as Arch Bishop of Buenos Aires. Later the Blessed and late Pope John Paul II named him a Cardinal in the year 2001. Pope Francis I bears a lot of “firsts”. He is the first non European and non Italian Pope for a thousand years. He is the first Argentinean and first Latin American Pope. Also the first Pope who took the name Francis, after the great Saint, Francis of Assisi.
Christian Panorama has heard the views of some Christians who gave their reactions to the election and inauguration of Pope, Francis I. We shall now read what they say. First to be interviewed was Mrs. Anna Fatou Mendy, The Chairperson of Resurrection Parish, Brikama. For her she had this to say: “I am happy that the Church has elected a Pope and so the Church is today with a leader that God chose for himself and for the Church”. She also added this, “For the Pope to be a non European and non Italian speaks for itself meaning that God chooses who so ever he wishes. The choice of God cannot be the choice of man”.
Finally, Mrs. Anna Fatou Mendy, foresees the work of the Pope saying: “For me the Pope should focus on the young people, to give them a direction to serve the Church because they will one day be those to serve the Church.
Father Anthony Gabisi, is one of the first Gambian Ordained Catholic Priests, he also said, “I am happy that the Church has got a leader as it is necessary because the Church cannot go without a leader. For any institution to survive it should have a leader who would lead and others follow”.
Secondly Father Gabisi said, “The Church having a non European and non Italian Pope shows the universality of the Church. The Pope as leader of the Church need not be coming from one country alone. As leader for the universal Church the Pope can come from anywhere so long as he serves the ministry and mission to lead the Church to Jesus Christ. The choice of a leader is done by God through the Holy Spirit.
Finally Father Gabisi was poised to say that now that Pope Francis I is inaugurated, he should focus on the Church being the Church that serves Christ in the poor and needy in the world. This will bring Christ to the poor and the marginalized of the world.
Mrs. Marie Louise Mendi, works as Administrative Secretary of The Gambia Christian Council. She also shares her views. Mrs. Mendi says she is happy about the Church having a leader but fears that the Pope has a huge task awaiting him. “I pray that God will give him the wisdom and strength to do his work”.
Also Mrs. Mendi feels that the Pope should not necessarily be from a particular country: “I don’t think that being a Pope is a matter of any nationality or colour. The Pope has to be anyone who is willing to do his work for the Church.
Mrs. Mendi added that the Pope’s work should be focused on evangelization: “The work of the Pope should be to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the faithful and to preach amicability and peace among Christians and Muslims in the world.
Sister Mary E. Potin, is a Presentation of Mary Sister and presenter of Sunday Magazine on the Catholic Sunday Radio Programme. She also said, “I am happy and thrilled with the Church having a leader who is Pope Francis I. I saw the Pope a God elected and God sent for the Church. When I saw him in his simplicity that spoke to me a lot. I admired him as I admired the Blessed and late Pope John Paul II”.
Sister Mary said: “For the Pope to be a non European and non Italian means that the Church is an outgoing Church. It reaches out to the whole world just as Jesus gave his command to the Apostles to reach out to the whole world (Mat. 28:19-20).
Lastly, Sr. Mary feels this way that: “The Pope should focus on rebuilding the image of the Church that has been damaged by scandals and the media. He should also strengthen the faith of its members. The Pope being a practical and realistic person, he should as he loves doing, reach out to the poor and those that society marginalized and dejected”.
Mr. Joseph Gaye, a Parishioner of the Cathedral and also former Chairman and of the Parish Pastoral Council aired his views by saying, “I am happy that the Church has a leader and its work and mission should continue. For me the seat of the Pope after Pope Benedict’s resignation was not empty, it was filled by the Holy Spirit of God until Pope Francis I was elected.
Mr. Joe Gaye feels this way, about the Pope coming from outside Italy and so he said, “Well, one thing about the Catholic Church is that, it is a universal Church. The point of nationality is rather irrelevant and having the Pope coming from Argentina adds variety to its leadership. The Church is a progressive Church and moves on with a good leader that can come from any country.
Finally Mr. Gaye voiced his opinion as to what Pope Francis I should focus on. He said: “The Pope should focus on bringing the Catholic flock together and unite all factions that are in it for greater progress.
His focus should be guided by Christ being the good shepherd who always intend to bring his flock as he went out for the one that was lost leaving the ninety-nine behind (Lk. 15:1-7)