People often wonder what Pope Francis does as part of his responsibilities as Shepherd for approximately 1.2 billion Catholics around the world. A Catholic publication recently addressed this question and stated the following: “Pope Francis has assumed the responsibility of leading the world’s Roman Catholics.” “His duties as the 266th successor to the throne of Saint Peter are wide ranging. His regular Vatican appointments are a weekly blessing for tourists and pilgrims every Sunday from the window of his private study overlooking Saint Peter’s Square. A weekly general audience for some 5000 pilgrims in a modern audience hall in winter and in the open air in St. Peter’s Square in the summer. The Pope normally presides over religious celebrations of all major church festivals of the year inside Saint Peter’s including Easter and Christmas. The Pope has a small personal staff of nuns to run his household to cook and clean, and a personal valet. The Pope also has two personal secretaries, also a team of speechwriters. One of the duties of the Pope is to meet every five years with more than 5000 bishops from around the world. This is done not all at once but approximately 20 bishops a week at a time. Under Church law they are obliged to visit Rome to report to the Pope on the state of their diocese in what is called an “ad limina” visit. Foreign travel is also one of the Pope’s duties. Pope Francis also receives many visitors from all over the world. Traditional papal protocol is complicated and serves to isolate the Pope except when he officiates at these public ceremonies.” “The Apostolic Palace which is a fine Renaissance Building next to Saint Peter’s Basilica has suites of official reception rooms on its second floor below the Papal Apartments. Here the Pope receives heads of state and official guests in his private library ranging from four to five visitors to several hundred at a time. Popes traditionally live in the spacious apartment reserved for their use on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. This might not suit Pope Francis who prefers a more simple accommodation.”
As we can see from this brief summary, the duties and responsibilities of the Pope are varied and challenging. We are invited pray that Pope Francis will continue to embrace these duties and responsibilities with fervor. We are also invited to pray that he will humbly lead our Church with courage and vision as we continue to confront secular and materialistic forces that seek to undermine the integrity and the influence of Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular.