Witnessing the investiture of Pope Francis at the Vatican was “one of the most exciting, moving, meaningful experiences I’ve ever had,” Congressman James Langevin said shortly after the rite ended on Tuesday.
“I was very impressed by the ceremony,” added the 2nd District representative who joined eight of his colleagues in what he called “a bipartisan delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives to see Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina officially become the 266th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. “It was a combination of being majestic and spiritual and humbling all at the same time. The majesty of the ceremony came through, as did the humble nature of Pope Francis, who I think is being very well received.
“I think the College of Cardinals has chosen wisely,” Langevin noted.
Langevin said he hopes Pope Francis will be a “transformative figure and a uniter, hoping to draw people back to the church and the faith. Only time will tell, but I think this is an excellent opportunity to respect the traditions of the ancient history of the church but at the same time, I hope Pope Francis will work to bring the church further into the 21st century.”
Among the ways he could do that, the lawmaker said, “is to be more inclusive, especially including and involving more women in the role the church plays in the lives of Catholics and people of all faiths.”
Langevin also said the new Pope “certainly has spoken out in the past about perhaps contraception could be used to prevent disease. That would be a welcome change to the church, in my opinion, if he were to embrace contraception. As you know, I believe in strong support for sex education and contraception to prevent unintended, unwanted pregnancies and in whatever capacity the church could move in that direction would be a positive step as far as I’m concerned.”
“Clearly Pope Francis led his life, both as a priest and a cardinal, as a humble man; he is a Jesuit and has taken a vow of poverty,” the Rhode Island Democrat said. “Even as a cardinal, he could have enjoyed all the trappings of office and yet he rejected that and has lived a very humble life. Most of his career and his time with the poor, trying to minister to all people, but was very close to some of the poorest people in his home country.”
Reports say the new pope took his name as an homage to St. Francis of Assisi, noted for working with the poor and downtrodden.
Langevin, who also attended the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, said that and yesterday’s ceremony “were both incredibly moving experiences. Much of the ceremony was the same, but I just got the sense, because of the nature of Pope Francis, there was a humbleness about the ceremony. He paid tribute at the end of the Mass to St. Joseph, who is the patron saint of Italy. He stood before a statue of St. Joseph and prayed for a moment there before going back into the Vatican.” Tuesday was St. Joseph’s feast day.
“The weather cooperated, too,” Langevin said, “I think St. Joseph was smiling on Italy today.”