Pope Francis – A First for Rome

A couple of Baptist deacons walked into a Holiday Inn for supper when they noticed a meeting room full of Catholic monks.  The brothers were there for a religious seminar.  The two Baptists thought, “Why not take advantage of the moment and get a little education about the various orders?”  So the deacons entered the room and asked  the first monk they came across if he could explain to them the differences between the groups.  The monk said, “Sure. Those brothers over there are Augustinians. They are all about meditation.  These brothers over here are Franciscans.  They are all about works. And the brothers down at the end are Benedictines.   They are all about mercy.  But when it comes to humility, we Dominicans are number one!”

But the new Pope, Francis, is none of the above.  He is a Jesuit.  The first Jesuit ever to be chosen as Pope.  Let me explain to you what this means. 

When Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation  in the early 1500s, the Roman Catholic Church decided to fight back with a Counter Reformation of its own.  But who would lead such a movement?  It was then that a priest by the name of Ignatius Loyola stepped forward.  He told the then Pope that he wanted to start a religious order called the Jesuits (followers of Jesus) which would take on Luther and his Protestants.  Rome agreed.  And so the fierce battle began – the former Catholic monk  (Luther) versus the present Catholic monk (Loyola). …
To me, the Jesuit order consists of two opposing vows –  to be both  humble lambs and aggressive lions.  Humble lambs when it comes to the people (to be poor and help the poor) but aggressive lions when it comes to the papacy (to attack those who attack the church).  In the lamb role, to their commendation, the Jesuits have done many good things for the people of their faith (hospitals, orphanages, homes, schools, etc.).  But in the lion role, to their condemnation, the Jesuits have done some bad things to people of other faiths (persecuting them, torturing them, expelling them, etc.).  In fact, historically, the Jesuit order is known as the Pope’s marines – first in outreach and first in confrontation.  

Now, because the Jesuits sometimes operate outside the mainstream of Catholicism, there has  been a love-hate relationship with Rome.  In particular, the last two Popes (John Paul II and Benedict) were not fans of the Jesuits nor they of them.  And this is why of the 115 Cardinals who met to choose the next Pope, only one, Francis, was a Jesuit.  And thus, the real shock of his election to even the Jesuits. (Although the fact that Francis is from the Americas, home to half of all Catholics, pragmatically helped the Cardinals to make him the next Pope).

At the moment, we are seeing Pope Francis, the humble Jesuit lamb. The question is, Will we also see Pope Francis, the aggressive Jesuit lion? And if so, in what ways today?  Could this Pope even be the end-time prophesied false prophet in Revelation 13?  I don’t know.  Only God does.  But because we view the papacy not as a true office but a false one, every Pope should be seen thru suspicious lenses.  As Jesus said in Matt. 7:15,

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.