Given the election of Pope Francis, the Salesian Rector Major, Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva, offers the Congregation and the Salesian Family a new message that confirms the great bond that Salesians have with St Peter’s Successor.
I had the grace of being in St Peter’s Square packed with thousands upon thousands of people, especially young people, at the moment that we heard the much-awaited proclamation:
“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio
qui sibi nomen imposuit.
Even though he was not amongst the “papabili”, and initially this caused some confusion for those who did not know him, there was no delay in the welcome that was given to the New Successor of St Peter and the response was a lengthy applause, shouts of joy, and then the first chants: ‘Francesco, Francesco, Francesco….’.
Once again it was the Holy Spirit guiding the Cardinals in choosing the man God himself had chosen as the Vicar of Christ.
With all of you, dear brothers and sisters, members of the entire Salesian Family, and young people, I praise and thank the Lord for the great gift he has given us in the person of Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, whom I had the grace of getting to know, and dealing with him personally in the General Latin American Epsicopal Conference at Aparecida and, later, for the Beatification of Ceferino Namuncurà.
The choice of name, Francis, is significant because in a certain way it picks up some of his characteristic traits – simplicity, poverty, authenticity – and at the same time it becomes programmatic since it highlights some elements that describe the face of the Church today and its relationship with the world.
Before imparting his first blessing as Pontiff, he asked us to bless him. In profound silence each one did this from the depths of his or her heart, allowing themselves to be guided by the Spirit. I now invite you to invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit on him, so that he may have the light to discern what the Lord expects of His Church today and may find the energy to do it.
In a spirit of faith and with much esteem and devotion we welcome Pope Francis, as Don Bosco would have done, and while we entrust him to the care and maternal guidance of Mary, Help of Christians, we assure him of our affection, our obedience and our most sincere and clear collaboration at this time of new evangelisation.
Fr Pascual Chávez V., SDB