Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote yesterday on Pope Francis’ visit to St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome and on why he may have opted to pray, while there, at the tomb of Pope St. Pius V.
So who was Pope St Pius V? He was a reforming pope who reigned from 1566- 1572. He cleaned up the curia, excommunicated heretical bishops, cleaned up the immorality in the church and swept the church clean– paving the way for the great surge in the church we call the Counter Reformation. He also excommunicated the tyrant Elizabeth I of England and formed the Holy League–a confederation of Catholic armies which eventually defeated the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto. Pius V also instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victories (nor the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary).
St Francis lived during a time of corruption, wealth and power in the church. He heard Christ say to him, “re-build my church.” Will Pope Francis also hear the call from Christ to “re-build my church” and not only be a new Francis but a new Pius V? I think we will see some high drama in the months to come.
Father also wrote about Pope Francis’ record as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis is a true reformer, not the heretical kind the secular media here in America have been calling for.
As we can see already from Pope Francis’ very public acts of humility, like riding the bus instead of using the papal convoy, Pope Francis is, by example, calling on all of us to reform ourselves. That includes me. It includes you. It includes everyone.
Pope Benedict XVI offered us an example of profound humility in submitting to God’s will in resigning from the Chair of Peter, the seat of authority in the Catholic Church which has over a billion adherents worldwide. Pope Francis takes us further still into what seems clearly a future of reform. Pray for him, and for the whole Church.
One final note, not mentioned by Fr. Longenecker. When the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was elevated to choirmaster at St. Peter’s upon the death of Giovanni Animuccia, jealousy prompted calls for his removal. Pope Pius V held fast against this and retained him. Palestrina is called the “greatest composer of liturgical music of all time” by the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Palestrina – Tu es Petrus, Pope Benedict XVI, Ash Wednesday, 2013. (After his resignation announcement, with long applause from those in attendance.)