His tone was different, a tone many people feel hasn't been heard from a pope in recent memory. There was something warm about his Italian. Pope Francis has arrived.
In the weeks leading up to this now concluded conclave, I mentioned that there was something in the air, something that hinted everything was potentially subject to change. The magnitude of this change may well be seismic.
This new pontificate is a rejection of the past eight years. What dynamics went into his election? We can only speculate. It seems, however, that the majority of the cardinals wanted to reign in perceived excess of Benedict's pontificate. However, there is similarly no move towards the flavor of a John Paul II or John XXIII. Cardinal Bergoglio's papal name hearkens to something greater, something almost mythical, the saint that has perhaps been the paradigm of sanctity, reform, simplicity, poverty and, indeed, the living union between God and man.
It seems the cardinal electors realized the state of the Roman Church - it is do or die time and the need for something momentous is now.
Benedict tried the path of restoration, attempting to revive a distinctly European model of Catholicism as a solution to the creeping decline of the Church that occurred in progressively greater waves through the twentieth century. The decision has been made to reach beyond Europe. This will have tremendous ramifications. For Traditionalists, the nightmare has come true. You can read the usual suspects yourselves - I'll spare you any recounting of their reactions. The inevitable has come to pass: the exclusively European concept of Catholicism is being displaced in favor of a conception of the Church almost entirely foreign to the Western mindset. And this is being done because complex mixture of numerous co-factors has brought the Roman Church to the point of near collapse. The need is now for a leader who can revitalized the Roman Church, often by purifying her of her many sins and excesses. This is the hope a two thirds majority of the cardinal electors have invested in this pontiff.
No one can claim with any objectivity that Church did not decline under Benedict's papacy, due to some things that were perhaps of his own doing and some things that were perhaps outside of his control. The moment has arrived for God to make all things new - God's actions often require human hands.
More reflection this weekend.