BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio to Argentina, celebrated a special Mass of thanksgiving to offer gratitude and prayers for Pope Francis as he begins his papacy.
The March 17 Mass at the cathedral of Buenos Aires began a three-day period of prayer for Pope Francis that culminated on March 19 with the official inauguration of his pontificate.
The hundreds of faithful who gathered for the Mass broke out in applause numerous times to express their affection for “Father Bergoglio,” as he was often called, for his devotion to the Church in Argentina.
The initial applause lasted for more than a minute after Archbishop Tscherrig began his homily recalling those “moments of excitement and waiting” when the name Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio rang out from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
He offered thanks to God “for the great gift he made to the Church in the person of the archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of the Church,” adding that the year he has served as nuncio in Argentina has been sufficient time for him to “admire and appreciate the great human and spiritual charity of this intelligent and lucid archbishop, who is a simple and humble man of justice, close to the people.”
Archbishop Tscherrig underscored that when Francis asked the people to pray for him before bestowing the apostolic blessing, it was “an unusual gesture of humility aimed at receiving the blessing of the Lord through the intercession of the faithful.”
“Who doesn’t recall the incessant request he would make at each greeting and at the end of each one of his letters? ‘Pray for me; pray for me,’“ the nuncio said.
“Today, dear brothers and sisters, we wish to promise to continue praying for our Pope Francis and accompanying him in the difficult mission that the Lord has entrusted to him with our love and friendship,” he said.
“We also send him in Rome our profound gratitude for all the good he has done for the Church in Argentina, for his pastoral goodness and exemplary life,” he said.
Archbishop Tscherrig continued: “Each time the Lord gives us a new pope, he also offers us as a Church a new beginning, and he reminds us that we are also a pilgrim people, journeying towards the definitive goal of our lives, which is not in this world.”
“On this journey, the Pope is our guide, and he has the role of confirming us in the faith,” he said. “In his first message to the cardinals, Pope Francis pointed out the way: to always walk in the presence of the Lord.”
Archbishop Tscherrig also recalled the Holy Father’s warning that if the Church does not confess Christ she will be just another non-governmental organization, but not the Church.
“Let us walk together with the Pope, with the light of Jesus Christ,” and bear witness by seeing the face of Christ in the poor, the nuncio said.
In conclusion, he read a phrase Pope Francis wrote when he was a young student, shortly before his ordination to the priesthood: “I believe in my own personal history that was pierced by the loving gaze of Jesus, and I await the surprises of each day that will manifest the love, strength, temptation and forgiveness and that will accompany me until the definitive encounter with this marvelous Face.”