The Irish Jesuit Provincial Fr Tom Layden to-night warmly welcomed the news of the election of Pope Francis. Yesterday he wrote to the members of the Irish Province asking them to pray that the Holy Spirit would be with the Cardinals in the conclave.
“It was moving for me as a Jesuit when the new Pope appeared on the balcony and I reflected that his life of service of the Lord and of the Church had begun in the Society of Jesus. Hearing the news of the election of Pope Francis moves us to pray for him as he takes on this new responsibility. I was deeply moved also when the Pope asked for prayers for himself and when he bowed in that moment of silence.” he said.
“The Irish Jesuits will pray for him that the Lord will bless him in his ministry of leadership in the Church. Aware of his great love for the poor, and of his own simple lifestyle we hope that all Christians will be motivated to work with greater energy for justice and peace in our divided and broken world. And may the prayers of St Francis accompany him at this moment in his own life.”
Tom Layden SJ also added “At mass today in Milltown Park during my visitation there, we prayed especially for the Pope Emeritus ( Benedict XVI) that the Lord would bless him in his retirement and that he will find joy in his life of prayer and in reading and writing theology”.
James Kelly SJ is an Irish Jesuit and member of the Milltown Community and he knew the new Pope personally.
“I was teaching scripture in Buenos Aires for a number of years in the 70’s and he was Rector of the house I lived in. He was personally very good to me, helpful and encouraging of my work and my abilities.”, said Fr James.
“Of himself I found him to be a very spiritual man, humble but with strong convictions. He had charisma and was a marvellous leader. In fact I would say his leadership qualities were quite remarkable.”
He was also dynamic, and a man to get things done according to Fr Kelly. “He built a library when I was there and he also was responsible for attracting a large number of young men to join the Jesuits at a time when numbers had fallen.”
Referring to the simple lifestyle that he lived as Archbishop of Buenos Aires (he had left the Archbishop’s palace to live in a flat and he travelled by bus) Fr James said that the house they lived in in Buenos Aires at that time was also quite poor.
Fr James said he was taken completely by surprise when the Cardinal’s name was announced and he is delighted that he knew him. “I think he will make a very good Pope”.