We Have a New Pope — Now What?

Pope Francis I appears for first time on balcony of St. Peter's Basilica (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis I appears for first time on balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Celebrations have spread throughout the world with the election of Pope Francis. Amidst all of the festivities and news coverage, you might be wondering, What does he do now? What are his first days on the job really like? We have the answers as Pope Francis begins his reign as the Bishop of Rome, the 266th pope, and the global leader of the Catholic Church.

‘Hello, my name is Francis — nice to meet you’
As soon as Cardinal Bergoglio was elected, and he accepted the job, he chose a new name. Next, he stepped onto the balcony at St. Peter’s Square and delivered the Apostolic Blessing. In case you have the chance to meet Pope Francis, remember to genuflect in front of him and call him “Your Holiness” or “Holy Father.” As a sign of respect to the papacy, you should also kiss his ring. After he’s done with all the revelry associated with his election, we can only assume he heads home and starts practicing his new name and signature.

Moving in
The Papal Apartments have been the official residence of the pope since the 17th century. The new pope will have to make arrangements to get all of his belongings packed up and sent to his new digs in Vatican City. But not before the renovations are done! It’s typical for the Papal Apartments to be repaired and refurbished upon the arrival of a new pontiff. And Fido or Fluffy will have to stay in Argentina. Apparently, the pope can’t have pets. But that didn’t stop some popes like Leo X, who had a white elephant anyway.

New clothes
Since the late 18th century, the tailors to the popes hail from Gammarelli in Rome. Wonder why Pope Francis’ vestments fit so well at his reveal? Well, the folks at Gammarelli make a set of papal vestments in various sizes (this year — small, medium, and large). So, whoever the new pope is, he’s dressed for success!

The new pope should download Rosetta Stone on his iPad and brush up on his Italian. The official language of the Vatican is Italian. So, day-to-day business will be conducted in it. After he’s mastered Italian, as a global Catholic leader, he’ll no doubt want to become familiar with the different languages of Catholic faithful around the world!

Pope Francis certainly has big shoes (or at least fancy red ones) to fill as far as social media goes. Pope Benedict XVI put the Chair of Peter in front of a laptop, so to speak, and became the first pope to use Twitter with the handle @pontifex. Benedict’s tweets from the account have been removed and archived. Presumably Pope Francis will tweet from @pontifex as well! We wonder, in social media-driven world, will he tweet before he waves?

New logo
Graphic designers — get to work! It’s time to create a new Papal Coat of Arms. Pope Benedict XVI’s coat of arms included a scallop shell, brown bear, and a Moor’s head — all three had religious and some personal meaning to Benedict. Blessed JP2’s coat of arms was a bit simpler with a prominently placed cross and an “M” beneath it to represent the presence of Mary at Jesus’ cross. What tradition and meaning will be communicated through the new pope’s coat of arms? We’ll have to wait and see!

Top Chef: Vatican Edition
Pope Francis got to eat! (And if he’s enjoying pasta and gelato everyday, he’s going to need to hit the treadmill, too!) Pope Francis might choose to hire a chef from Argentina to prepare some of his meals. Pope Benedict XVI enjoyed a feast prepared by Chef Lidia Bastianich, known for her PBS cooking show, during his 2008 visit to New York City. Might we see another celebrity chef preparing a papal meal? Or perhaps a culinary throwdown of the world’s top chefs at the Vatican? This might be the perfect opportunity for a papal-branded reality TV show!

Start your engines!
The Popemobile is the transportation method of choice when the pope makes outdoor public appearances. The new pope will sit back and relax as he’s driven around St. Peter’s or other destinations. But we wonder if just once, Pope Francis might hop in the driver’s seat, adjust the seat and mirrors in his new sweet ride and take the Popemobile out for a spin! (With the Swiss Guard chasing close behind.)

Holy Week
It’s about to get really busy at St. Peter’s and the new pope will have a lot of special Holy Week duties to attend to! We expect that Pope Francis will preside at the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday followed by mass in St. Peter’s Square. Later in the week, on Good Friday, he’ll preside at the reading of the Passion, adoration of the Cross, and Communion — in the Vatican basilica, perhaps. In the evening, he will walk the Stations of the Cross. (We suggest that as he prepares, he might use Busted Halo’s® Virtual Stations of the Cross.) Then, on Easter Sunday morning, he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and deliver his Urbi et Orbi message.

Getting to work
Pope Francis is taking the reigns at a busy time in the life of the Church. Day-to-day, the new pope’s work will be focused on Church business, including appointing bishops, naming saints, and protecting the doctrine and beliefs of the Church. On top of all that, he’ll no doubt have a busy travel schedule. One of his first stops will be World Youth Day this summer in Rio de Janiero. The pope is a guide to faithful Catholics on their own personal spiritual journeys. Certainly fit for this and all the challenges of his holy office, we hold Pope Francis in our prayers as he takes his place on the Chair of St. Peter.