Since becoming pope, Francis has never ceased to amaze me, and this is in fact true to many people thrown off by his uncustomary ways in the hierarchy of Catholic Church officials.
It is not that he is an oddball or puzzling individual, then as cardinal and now as pope, but it is just that our naivete took the better of us, believing that once a cardinal is elected to the papacy that a dramatic change would occur in his deportment to conform his stature as successor of St. Peter, leader of billions of Roman Catholics, bishop of Rome and head of state of Vatican City.
At least that is how we were made to believe the system works at the Vatican, once a pope is installed on his throne and presented to the public.
For some reason, he appears to be a different man, dressed expensively and granted the indulgence of living in opulence, surrounded by all kinds of aides.
Not until Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis did we learn that you can continue being your own persona and still be recognized and even acclaimed more as pope.
We have seen how Francis has shunned much of the Vatican tradition by choosing simpler and less costly alternatives when it comes to both papal clothes and accessories.
He has not changed at all from the way friends and acquaintances have described him.
Known for his simplicity and humility, he has been breaking with papal tradition from the very beginning that people seem to be asking: what is next to be dispensed with? But, all these have simply endeared him to many – Catholics and non-Catholics.
In a continuing display of adherence to what his chosen name symbolizes, which is “poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church”, it has been reported that Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartment used by Benedict XVI and others before him, preferring instead to stay in a simple suite at a Vatican guesthouse.
Spokesman Federico Lombardi said the new pontiff would remain in the 120-room guesthouse among other members of the clergy “until further notice.”
“He is trying out this type of simple living with other priests,” Lombardi said, without saying when, or even if, the Pope would move into the papal residence.
The pontiff has been taking his meals in the common dining room of the guesthouse, more known as Casa Santa Marta, and celebrating 7am mass with Vatican employees in its main chapel.
What is being eagerly awaited is on Holy Thursday when Francis is expected to break with tradition again by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which includes the gesture of the washing of feet, at the Casal del Marmo youth detention center.
The service has in past years been held at the grand Basilica of St. John Lateran, the official seat of the bishop of Rome.
As Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, he used to celebrate the Mass in a prison or hospital or hospice for the poor and marginalized.
The way I look at it, with the consistency of Pope Francis’ character, we are now at the threshold of seeing the propitious change in the image of the Catholic Church.
May God grant him long, fruitful years ahead.