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QUINTESSENCE

Simplicity, Pope Francis, and Philosophical Authenticity

Pope Francis, The Vatican: photo credit Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.
- Walt Whitman

My thoughts were swept away today. I abandoned working on my writing project to witness the choosing of a new pope in the great city of Rome. Perhaps the last time in my life this ancient religious event, a papal conclave of 114 Cardinals gathered from the farthest corners of the globe, will occur. For me, the great wonder of Roma lies in the rich intersection of Roman history in ruin and architecture, the artistic wonders present in every fountain, church, and piazza, in the venerable Jewish Ghetto, and in the Vatican's artistic and religious treasures. Within this city mingle centuries of letters, art, and the great philosophical ideals of human history.

3/13/13...a day of significance.

The rituals of faith have once more brought forth change. Cloistered deep within the Vatican, where Judeo-Christian spiritual history may be felt in the worn stones of St. Peter's Basilica, seen glorified in Michelangelo's great artistic homage to human faith in the Sistine Chapel, found written on ancient Aramaic burial stones protected in the Vatican's Judaic collection, a new leader has been chosen for the Catholic Church. An elder of the South American faithful, a Jesuit known for his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, this humble man represents virtues of simplicity of faith, tending to the needs of the poor, and building a strong - and honest - church. His chosen name as Pope is Francesco: Francis, for St. Francis of Assisi, the historical voice of the poor and great reformer of the church. A declaration that faith is not about power but purpose.

What destroys faith most fully is hypocrisy. All of us, I believe, want faith to begin in spiritual honesty, to be lived genuinely, and defended in truth. This humble man, who has re-christened himself after the most plain of saints, offers hope; dedication to the reforms and healing needed within Catholicism around the world. As Pope Francis led the faithful from the balcony of the Vatican tonight in the Lord's Prayer, I could not help but feel deeply moved. His simplicity is authentic : there is an experience of purity in his humble smile, in his joy in the people, in his obvious love of his church. The moment stands as a great sweep of fresh air through the spiritual work of humanity on this planet. I wish Pope Francis many blessings in bringing forth meaningful change.

Habemus Papam Franciscum.
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