Habemus A Revolutio??

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
18 March 2013 10:34 IST

I write this, as my usual agnostic self. Hence I beg your indulgence, if I drift away from the traditional narrative.

It was on the 13 th March, as I turned on the BBC News at around 11.30 pm, that I was greeted, with delirious whoops of joy, as white smoke emanated from the chimney of the Sistine chapel.

The new Pope had been found. Paradoxically enough, the white smoke had thrown up a black Pope. (A term used to describe, the head of the Jesuits, who traditionally wear black robes and who are perhaps Roman Catholicism’s most tireless and devoted grass roots workers)

It took an hour for cardinal Bergoglio to appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s. 200000 people had already gathered there, in the square, cheering, dancing, singing and waving flags. It was like 200 football matches, with all the crazy fans, taking place simultaneously. The atmosphere was electric, more like a rock concert.

And then, with a shy wave, a bashful smile and clearly overawed by the moment, Pope Francis boomed in a crisp, friendly tone “Buona Sera” (Good evening in Italian)

No formal Latin salutation, no complex, ceremonial grand standing. Just simple, friendly and straight from the heart.

An early sign that a dear buddy- not some frightening King- had ascended the throne of St. Peters.

He then prayed for Pope Benedict. A simple our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

And then for me, the absolute moment of Epiphany. A sheer moment of magical triumph.

I certainly may be theologically, doctrinally and dogmatically way off the mark in interpreting this moment but to a confused agnostic, this was jaw dropping.

And the moment was this, Pope Francis in one inspirational gesture asked the 200000 people gathered there (and perhaps a billion worldwide). “ Men and women of goodwill, pray for me, your Pope”.

That ridiculously noisy, completely deafening and delirious crowd, wrapped up in their moment of exhilaration went dead silent- pin drop silent- in a fraction of a second upon hearing that request.

They bent their heads, internalized all their joy and prayed for I think, their new found amigo.

Look at it this way.

Whenever you go to St. Peters and listen to a papal mass or a blessing, you get the Pope to pray FOR you or WITH you, never the other way round.

In that one supreme act, Pope Francis, transferred the power of prayer into the hands of his people to pray FOR HIM. A genuine devolution of power to the grassroots.

The analogy may not be perfect but in a world where democracies are increasingly in danger and dictatorships flourish, just imagine if a Vladimir Putin or a Bashar-Al Assad or many of the tin pot dictators in Africa could learn from the Pope and transfer power to the people and rule with them, rather than for them.

And from this one democratic article of faith of the new pontiff stem all his other sterling qualities that the world is gushing about. His genuine caring for the destitute, humility, self sacrifice, humanism, his sense of Justice and his twinkling sense of humor.

I may be early on this, but I think I am right. Catholics have truly hit the jackpot this time. Finding a genuine leader who suggests he is going to transfer power, visibility and responsibility to the millions of priests, nuns and the faithful, selflessly and tirelessly working, unsung in schools and slums, favellas and filth holes, orphanages  and orders the world over.

Again I may be on the wrong foot. But Jesuits truly understand this best. That the heart of Christianity must be Christ and only Christ in all his spectacular avatars of service and sacrifice and selflessness, not debates and endless debates about dodgy, dark ages, dreary dogmas.

My other prediction is this: Pope Francis clearly plans to veer the church onto this path of social justice and genuine caring for the poor who are as entitled to the earth’s resources as the rapacious buccaneers set to destroy all that sustains this globe. (Did any of our ruthless mining and real estate magnates, who are usually in the front pews of a church or a temple, get the Pope’s real message? I wonder!)

 Trust me, the world media will follow his every move, latch on to his every word and push him to headlines as much as an Obama, a Merkel or a Manmohan Singh.

Of course, he will have to address all the other burning issues that the church is confronted with. From sex abuse scandals to money laundering; from gender inequality and homosexuality to contraception. He’ll have to address all this without taking recourse to theological smokescreens.

In sum, then, if this charismatic shepherd of the Lord walks the talk; makes the poor and marginalized the heart of the Christian debate, reconciles and engages non threateningly with other faiths and works ceaselessly to preserve our planet, the World and not just the Catholics will have found a sure shot superstar, a true king among princes.

If Pope John Paul II was the pontiff who helped dismantle the Communist Bloc, this pope could well be the one to give the moral impetus, to fix our skewed and horribly brutal global financial system, the root cause of all our maladies today.

I seriously believe the new Mr. Super cool is here. A true blue chip rock star seems to have arrived.

Habemus Papum? – Sure! Habemus A Revolutio (Do we have a Revolution?). That time will tell and only if the 1.2 billion sheep truly and sincerely followed their amazing shepherd.

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Dr. Oscar, I very much liked your narrative about our new Pope . He is more than super cool. I truly love him. God bless him!

- Maxim Noronha, Kuwait | 19 th March 2013 12:03


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