On the election of Pope Francis

Mar. 31, 2013

Press Statement
21 March 2013

We hail the election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

And we in the Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (Samin) share in the jubilation, taking especially the vantage point of the poor who are buoyed with hope by Pope Francis’ simplicity and mission for those who are in the margins of society.

Pope Francis’s exhortation to the faithful to go back to our Christian roots, and his symbolic break away from the pompous traditions of the Vatican, is an upfront challenge to lifestyle, irrelevant dogma, and unresponsiveness of a Church that has fallen in lethargy if not apathy to the stark economic and political inequalities prevalent in the world today.

The Church as an institution has clearly been complicit— by her silence or tacit endorsements— with dictatorships, economic exploitation, colonization and neo-colonization, and all other forms of domination over the poor and their resources.

Pope Francis has rekindled a new hope among the Catholic faithful by departing from the deeply feudal and patriarchal traditions of Church officialdom.  He has shown his humility towards his fellow cardinals, asked the blessing of the people over his papacy, and shun the comforts of Vatican aplomb.

However, while many words of praise have been heaped on the new leader of the world’s 1.2 Billion Catholics, we remain watchful of any hype that might tend to emphasize form and appearance rather than measure substance and usher in change in systems, structures, and lifestyles.

Pope Francis has started to show the need for thoroughgoing conversion of the Church’s lifestyle.  But beyond this, we offer our prayer and hope that the Church herself stands to challenge our modern-day capitalistic and exploitative social structures.

For true mission to the poor is not merely to be witnesses to their suffering and death, but more importantly to proclaim the good news of the resurrection through total human liberation, here and now.  This is the new evangelization that the poor have hungered for and they have looked up to a Church that is relevant than introvert, compassionate than apathetic, responsive than aloof.

We are reinvigorated therefore by Pope Francis’s desire for “a poor Church for the poor.”  But beyond this, we offer our prayer as well for a Church that questions and criticizes poverty, true to the spirit of the Gospel.  This means a Church that knows the unequal and scandalous relations between poverty and wealth, power and powerlessness, the world’s elite and the world’s poor, and seeks to overturn it through active prayer and social action.

We especially pray that the Holy Spirit engender the Church; that, faithful to Mary Our Mother, the Church officialdom sincerely respect women and work for their social emancipation; that the Church cleanses itself of feudal-patriarchal baggage and uphold the dignity of women in the church and women in society.

We pray that Pope Francis reconcile with his reported past which, if true, is that of being silent in the face of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances under the dark days of Argentina.  Let it be a lesson as well for the Church to denounce the culture of death and impunity which is so prevalent in our own country and elsewhere.

Finally, we pray that Cardinal Bergoglio’s choice to perpetuate the name of St. Francis as patron of the poor and Creation, truly reflect in Church teachings and actions that confront the demons of environmental plunder and announce that another world that upholds human life and that of the Planet is possible.

Together with the rest of the Catholic faithful, it is our hope that the stirrings of the Spirit usher in changes in Vatican ways to enable us to go back to Christianity’s roots, as Pope Francis tells us, and allow once more the winds of change to sweep and animate the Body of Christ.

Sr. Noemi P. Degala, SMSM
SAMIN- Executive Secretary
Cell phone No. 0929-446-3684

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