Pope’s sister: Francis ‘plenty tough enough’ to lead | National Catholic Reporter

Pope’s sister: Francis ‘plenty tough enough’ to lead | National Catholic Reporter.

TUZAINGÓ, ARGENTINA

Though there aren’t yet hard numbers to back it up, it’s a good bet that the single most interviewed human being on the planet since March 13, 2013, has been a simple 64-year-old housewife in the Argentine city of Ituzaingó, about an hour outside Buenos Aires.The woman is Maria Elena Bergoglio, and her older brother Jorge today is known to the world as Pope Francis. They’re the last surviving siblings of five children, and since the moment Francis stepped out onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Maria Elena become the go-to point of reference for insight on the new pope.

Listening to her, she seems cut from the same cloth as her now-famous sibling: Humble and unpretentious, and also completely unafraid to speak her mind.

For instance, when stories began to make the rounds about Francis having become a priest only because a young love rejected his marriage proposal, Maria Elena was there to bat it down. She insisted that her brother was only a kid at the time, and the idea of getting married was never serious. More ominously, when critics suggested that her brother had been complicit in Argentina’s military junta, Maria Elena testily pointed out that her family emigrated from Italy because their father was opposed to fascism … the clear suggestion being that Jorge Mario Bergoglio would never betray his father’s memory by cozying up to dictators.Read more……….

Reflections of a Paralytic » Francis Leaves Popemobile to Bless Disabled Man

Francis Leaves Popemobile to Bless Disabled Man
Before his inaugural Mass this morning, Pope Francis descended the popemobile to bless a disabled man in St. Peter’s Square.

He’s preaching the Gospel of Life without saying a word. I love this man.

He also has to be giving his security team some mild heart attacks. I like what Elizabeth Scalia had to say this morning on Twitter in response to concerns over his safety: “#PopeFrancis seems determined to teach that you go forward in faith, not fear, on God’s timetable. Good lesson.”

An excellent lesson, but still, “Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Francis. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.” (Prayer for the Pope, Handbook of Prayers)

Vatican celebrates Knights of Malta’s 900 years

The Knights of Malta, one of the most peculiar organizations in the world, marked its 900th birthday Saturday with a colorful procession through St. Peter’s Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, himself a member of the onetime chivalrous order drawn from Europe’s nobility.

The Knights are at once a Roman Catholic religious order, an aid group that runs soup kitchens, hospitals and ambulance services around the globe, and a sovereign entity that prints its own passports and enjoys diplomatic relations with 104 countries — yet has no country to call its own.

The order’s international legal status is entirely unique, a sovereign entity that prints its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, yet has no territory over which it rules. Its forces once occupied Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta, but Napoleon expelled the order from Malta in 1798, depriving it of the final patch of land it ruled.

Nevertheless, the order still enjoys many of the trappings of a small country: U.N. observer status and diplomatic relations with 104 countries, most of them in the developing world where such ties can smooth the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the United States, for one, has no relations, precisely because it’s a stateless state.

In his speech Saturday, Benedict affirmed the sovereign status that the order enjoys. He acknowledged its peculiar nature, saying the order’s guiding spirit “aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body … with special regard for those whose need of hope and love is greater.”