When the Pope held the door for Mumbai’s archbishop

April 1, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Pope FrancisCardinal GraciousMumbai, March 30, 2013: The Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, returned home last weekend after having helped select a new shepherd to lead 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. He describes Pope Francis as his “dream candidate”, so affable and humble he once held the door for Cardinal Gracias when they “bumped into each other in the corridor”.

“I laughed in embarrassment and said it was I who should be holding the door for him,” Cardinal Gracias says. “For a week afterwards, we met regularly at breakfast, lunch and dinner so I got to know him closely. He would frequently say ‘Pray for me’. He said that even when I met him to take leave as I prepared to return to India.”

The quick result to an election that was expected to last several days surprised not only media observers but the elector-candidates themselves. As tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square and millions watched at home, the members of the conclave observed pin drop silence and took an oath of secrecy before every vote.

“Truly it was the hand of God at work given that Pope Francis was not a high-profile candidate, yet the decision went in his favour in merely the fifth round. As the vote count touched the magic two-thirds majority of 76-77 a burst of applause went up. Pope Francis was seated right across me. He raised his hand and smiled as if signalling us to stop. Then he mostly sat with his head bent in prayer and hardly looked up,” the archbishop says.

He is convinced the Church is in capable hands. “From the Asian perspective, we wished for a spiritual leader who can be the moral voice of the world, even if it is a lonely voice,” Cardinal Gracias says.

He got his wish, it seems, for Pope Francis displays rare detachment from power and material comforts. However, he does wish that the pontiff would take personal security more seriously given his inclination to break the security cordon to mingle with the crowds.

Cardinal Gracias laughs away the prospect of assuming a larger role in church affairs that would entail moving to Rome.

“Of course I would like to help in every way possible. Having stayed with Pope Francis for a week I did get attached to him,” he says.

– times of india

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