Saturday, June 07, 2014

First Impressions

March 13, 2013 is a day I will never forget. I was at work, but being that I am graced to work with mainly Catholics, we had pretty much ceased all productivity for the afternoon when we saw the white smoke come out of the Sistine chimney. We were all gathered about the office computer watching the bad-resolution live feed and waiting for the appearance of the new Pope on the loggia of St. Peter's. We were all hoping for Burke or Ranjith and predicting what regnal nomen the new pope would take.

Then Cardinal Tauran appeared and announced the new pontiff. I could not understand him, but I made out the words "Francisco" and "Jorge", which I knew meant "George", so for a moment I thought he said Francis George. 

Then Jorge Bergoglio stepped out onto the loggia. Overwhelmed by the applause and the intensity of the moment, he just stared off the balcony with a thin, weak smile, sweat visibly rolling down his cheeks. He awkwardly waved and continued to stare as the commentators attempted to do some hasty research and explain who Jorge Bergoglio was.

I consider myself a Catholic who is fairly well educated about the Church at large, but I had no idea who Bergoglio was. I had never heard of him and certainly did not recognize his face. He was a nobody to me. A complete blank slate. I had no opinions about the man for good or for ill. 

Yet, strangely, when I first saw the new pope, a terrible, ominous feeling came over me. A feeling of...well, not dread, but a deep, heavy and oppressing sense of trouble - foreboding. In fact, my stomach kind of sank and I felt sick. This reaction was a mystery to me then and continues to be so now; I was a college student in 2005 when Ratzinger was elected, and when Ratzinger walked out onto the loggia, I was filled with jubilation and joy - even a supernatural sense of filial devotion and piety which I noticed fill my heart when Benedict XVI was introduced. And at that time I knew very little about Ratzinger, either.

Such a contrast between the two conclaves! I was again expecting 2013 to be a conclave of joy, like 2005 - but I was very disoriented and troubled when Pope Francis was announced. Everything just seemed...under shadow.

I thought this was just my own private reaction, but over the past  year I have heard countless stories of people sharing the same anecdotes. Common phrases to describe that moment are "ominous", "foreboding", "sinking feeling in my stomach", "sick" and so on. I have been honestly shocked at how many people I have run across who explained feeling a similar sensation on the eve of the Holy Father's election. It seems to be something of a phenomenon.

I know feelings don't necessarily mean anything, and I do not want to read more into this than what there is. But I am now curious, did you have a similar experience? How widespread was this premonition of foreboding among traditional Catholics?

Therefore, I ask you:

When Jorge Bergoglio stepped out onto the loggia for the very first time on that drizzly evening in 2013, what was your initial gut reaction? Before you knew who he was - before you Googled his history - before he had time to do anything for good or for ill - before you had time to think about what he was or was not wearing on his gestures or anything else - what was your initial, from-the-belly reaction about the new pope?

I am not asking you to bash Pope Francis or offer commentary on anything that has happened during his papacy; I am merely asking you to think back to March 13, 2013 and recall how you felt when you saw the new Pope for the very first time. Leave your stories in the combox. I don't usually ask this, but in this case, please restrain your comments to answering the question I have posed. If you are old enough, please feel free to add comments about your reactions to other papal elections as well.

"But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie." ~1 John 2:27


EuropeanCatholic said...

It is interesting to read your thoughts about when Pope Francis stepped out onto the loggia.

My feelings were exactly the same as yours. I felt quite oppressed and a sense of foreboding and I felt uneasy. I don't know why either. My parents were with me and they were surprised at my lack of joy. This was in contrast to 2005. Hearing that Joseph Ratzinger had been elected Pope and wathcing him step out onto the loggia as Pope were some of the most joyful moments of my life.

I had heard of Jorge Bergoglio before his election. In particular, I had heard that he had gained votes in the 2005 Conclave as the so-called liberals candidate.

But I had only seen a few photos of him over the years such as the one on the subway where he looks much younger and thinner.

I was taken aback when I saw him step out on the loggia. I did not recognise him. I also took note immediately that this would be a very different style of Pontificate as he was not wearing the red Papal stole.

One thing I often ponder is what the Cardinal Electors make of Francis.

Anonymous said...

I too was praying for Burke or Ranjith, with Obama just having been sworn into a second term, I thought either man would have been a reasonable reaction. I only really have impressions of about 25 or so of the Cardinals, but had thought that this group of voting cardinals was probably more conservative or traditional than the group that elected Benedict XVI. I had no idea who Bergoglio was, I was driving a long distance and heard it all on Catholic radio. What I was most interested in was the new Pope's thoughts on the TLM, while all of the commentary was telling me how conservative Pope Francis was, the silence on this particular issue was deafening. The whole thing was underwhelming and in retrospect I would guess most "professional" Catholics didn't know who the new Pope was either and there was much "spinning" going on. At the time, I was just trying to collect as much information about our new Pope as I could.

spraffmeister said...

The very instant he came out I was confused as I too had never heard of him.

Before he came out, I was a little worried because of the new name Francis. I didn't think a traditional-minded pope would innovate like that.

His blank and distant stare made me feel embarrassed for him.
When he asked for the prayers of those in the square, that's when the feeling of foreboding came.

Overall I was completely disappointed. I had hoped so much for Ranjith or Burke, but was prepared even for someone more middling like Pell or Scola.

Jeff said...

Initial thoughts?

South America? No! No! We're in trouble. Wait, maybe he'll be okay. Maybe some aren't that bad. He could be fine. Don't judge a book by its cover.

Then I thought he looked papabile, whatever I thought that meant at the time.

Boniface said...

The Argentina thing did not bother me initially because one of the greatest priestly orders in my state, the Miles Christi, are Argentinian, so I knew that it was possible to get something good out of Latin America.

Steve Skojec said...

You're not alone. I felt sick, and I also had no idea who he was, either. I heard a voice in my head say, "This man is no friend of tradition."

I've written about my impressions, and certain Catholic bloggers of note have not ceased since I revealed them last October to poke fun at my instincts.

Fortunately, I've heard from countless others who feel much as we do. I know there's something to this intuition that caught so many Catholics by surprise. As time goes on, it makes more and more sense.

Boniface said...


Can you post the link here to that article of yours where you have all the quotes people sent you on this same question?

Anonymous said...

I was also working on March 13, 2013 and also I will never forget when I watched in my computer to Jorge Bergoglio appear onto the loggia.
I couldn't beleive to my eyes.
This day was one of the worst days in the last 10 years of my life
Obviously, I knew him.

An argentinian catholic

The Ghost of Tyburn said...

I had exactly the same reaction watching on a pop up screen on my computer. I would also describe the feeling as "praeternatural" and my stomach sank as if was dropping down the bottom of an elevator shaft at high speed.

Under my breath I muttered "Pope Paul VII" before I knew anything about the man. I should that in 2005 I was extremely ill with a terrible flu bug that had me asleep 20 out of 24 hours on Pope Benedict's election day, so its not like the previous Pontiff's election day was a picnic for me personally but the reaction I had was so quick and so fast I would describe it as involuntary. Its similar to when you meet a stranger for the first time and -- with no warning -- you immediately sense trouble but can't put your finger on why since you just met the person.

Ghost of Tyburn said...

One more thing:

His demeanor, perhaps unfairly because of his evident discomfort, was for me that of an "iceman". I sensed that he was here to take something from me which I held dear.

Again, you asked for initial gut level reaction and that's exactly what it was and I remember it as clearly as if it happened mere hours ago.

P.F. Hawkins said...

I was at work, watching a small stream in a corner of my computer as I went about my business. The second he walked out onto the balcony my stomach dropped. No rational explanation for it, but my gut reaction was "uh oh".

On the one hand, it's a first impression, gut reaction. On the other, it seems to be widespread among those who work to adhere to the teachings of the Church in all things. It's worth discussing, no matter how others might disparage the topic.

Anonymous said...

ANTICLIMACTIC! And indeed, a very ominous, uneasy feeling came over me as well. All of the words expressed in this post completely resonate with my gut reaction.

Paul Zummo said...

It's a bit eerie reading your initial reactions because they were almost identical to mine. I had this odd uneasy feeling, but it took me months before I was willing to even give voice to those uncomfortable feelings.

Anonymous said...

I live in Argentina, more exactly in Buenos Aires, and as a traditional Catholic knew very well who Bergoglio was: a fierce enemy of Tradition and a demagogue peronist that loves power an intrigue. He persecuted every single orthodox priest in Buenos Aires (many good friends of mine) with maffiosi measures, he never supported pro-life groups (on the contrary, he sabotaged them many times), he practically destroyed the main diocese of our country, and the rest of the country as well, since he had haevy influence in the selection of bishops.

By the way, the Argentine congregation named Miles Christi was not allowed by Bergoglio to perform any activity in Buenos Aires. I know perfectly well the scandalous story. One of their priests was my spiritual director and also performed my marriage.

So I had exactly the same bad raction to the election of Bergoglio. It is certainly very strange that, whithout knowing the records, you had the same horrible feeling.

Kind regads,

Alvaro Lara

Boniface said...


Can you be more specific about "maffiosi measures" and how he sabotaged pro-life activities?

That is sad about Miles Christi. They are a wonderful order. When Bergoglio got elected, they dutifully kept silent and lauded him on his election despite their issues with him. One of their priests used to be my spiritual director, but he got transferred to Mexico.

New Catholic said...

Oh, friends, you do read Rorate, right?... We had been covering Card Bergoglio since 2006! How could any of this have been a surprise? And we did our best to find someone who could write a thorough prediction of what was to happen based on his record in about 1 hour following his announcement. So do not say you were not warned. As soon as I heard "Georgius Marius", I knew what we were in for, very surprised with the Electors' choice, but no unusual feeling at all.

Alvaro, good to see you here, I recall your comments in Rorate when the boxes were open.

Best regards,


Boniface said...


Well, perhaps it is an American bias, but when you hear about bishops far away in other continents their names all tend to blend together. To this day I probably couldn't name one African bishop or Chinese bishop.

I confess too that it was the election of Bergoglio that turned me from an occasional Rorate follower into a daily reader, because Rorate alone was able to get the facts straight on the State of Buenos Aires vs. Federal City of Buenos Aires that so befuddled the neo-cons.

Boniface said...

But since you chimed in New Catholic, why don't you share your immediate reaction that day?

Ghost of Tyburn said...

I had never read Rorate until I read the headline:

"The Horror! The Horror!"

and now I check them at least daily.

New Catholic said...

It's not an "American" bias, obviously... Many of us knew who he was! But it is a characteristic of large nations in general, not just America, but also China, Australia, Russia, etc, a "national introspection". It is hard to break out of these constraints, but, as we try to show daily in Rorate, it is possible, and for us Catholics, especially in our age, it is absolutely necessary: the Church Universal is our "nation", now more than ever.

My immediate reaction was of great surprise because it could only have been explained by a partial "blindness" of many of the Electors, who did not seem to know what they were doing. The second one was that this was a strong collective rebuff by the majority of Electors of all that Ratzinger represented. And that the program would move accordingly. Naturally, all this went through my mind in seconds.


Derrick Richard Celso said...

I felt like something is wrong or a little bit off the time he appeared at that loggia. I felt a little bit uneasy too.

la bolilla said...

My feelings were very similar to yours. I am a convert, 8 years in the Church, so I only knew BXVI, and loved him. Despite my severe disappointment at his abdication, I decided to take part fully in the excitement of the papal elections. All my children and I "adopted" cardinals and we prayed for them every day by name, and the conclave. I was leaving home for the weekend with the children and told my husband before I left, "Here is all you need to know: if the press hates the new pope he'll be great, if they love him, he will be terrible..."

When I saw the white smoke I was so absurdly excited. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was almost jumping out of my skin waiting and waiting for our new Holy Father.

Finally he stepped out, and when I saw him I just felt my heart sink. He looked so weak, nervous and incompetent. I never wanted to have negative feelings about him. He's the pope. I'm a Catholic. I have to love him. But that moment sent a shock through my system. This entire past year since his election has had a devastating affect on me. On the good side, it has also made me dive into the Traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. I knew that I better cling to the Church's traditions for dear life if I wanted to remain Catholic.

Brian said...

Wow, those were my sentiments exactly. When Ratzinger was elected, I was still about 5 months away from entering the Church, and although I knew almost nothing about him, I was nevertheless thrilled. But not so with Bergoglio. I too had that sick sinking feeling in my stomach, wondering, "Who is this guy, and what's wrong with him?"

Anonymous said...

Anger. It makes no sense to me. But I will never forget it, and it makes me very afraid.

I had never seen him or heard of him ever before. I did not know what he believed or what his programs would be, yet his appearance caused a strong emotional response. Ever since then I have been "trying" that spirit of negative emotion against reason and fact. Confusion and rupture have been the halmarks of his Papacy, confirming my initial emotion. Trust me, I am very carefully analyzing my spirotual response. Sacred Tradition is the compass that guides me in current clouds of confusion.

The world as a whole not making sense to me any more, but when the Catholic Church disconnects from its past and commits to the revolution sweeping the rest of the world, it makes me think that something very, very big is happening, and Inam filled with dread.

Steve said...

The link to my post where I shared some of the reader emails is here:

I believe there were more in the comment box, but I'm too tired to look.

New Catholic, I did not read Rorate much at all, I'm afraid. In fact, I wasn't reading any Catholic blogs at the time of his election. My faith wasn't in the best place, and I was bored of the whole scene.

His election and what came after managed to shake me back awake.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a reaction until I saw a picture of him lighting a menorah candle while actively participating in a jewish rite. Although I am a bad Catholic, I have a much stronger faith and catholic sense than most of you professional Catholics. Accordingly, I immediately recognized this person as an apostate and false pope. In fact, I almost had a wet behind the ears priest deny me absolution when I explained to him my misgivings about this pretender. What exactly does the Almighty have to do to get you to exercise your sense of reason and apply them to the facts evidenced by the photograph of him participating in the Hanukkah service. This is Catholic 101 stuff. A quick read of Cantate Domino, Ex Apostalatus Officio, and a few other documents about evidencing apostasy through deed should have been enough for you to conclude that he doesn't hold the faith. Will you still castigate sedes if he issues a universal pastoral instruction that the divorced and remarried without the benefit of annulment are to be admitted to communion?

Anonymous said...


Jack Tollers said...

Flummoxed. Flabbergasted.

And, a bit later, ashamed.

We Argentines who knew him perfectly couldn't have felt worse.

And then, our Catholic friends from all over the world, asking us questions.

And wouldn't (or couldn't?) believe what we had to say.

To this day, my take (written painfully) in English on Bergoglio hasn't been published by anyone.

Jack Tollers

Boniface said...

Sorry, I am not posting all the Sedevacantist comments, nor the ones linking to the website of the hoax Maria Divine Mercy.

Anonymous said...

Like any normal Catholic I was very excited when the white smoke was announced and my family and I settled down to "welcome" the new Pope with great anticipation.

When he came out - (I repeat the same thing many of you have said here) - I felt as i I had been punched in the stomach...and then the sinking feeling. It was a shadowy rainy evening which didn't help. Then the strangenes of his attire - which I only realised later was bereft of papal signs of authority added to the sense of alienation I experienced.

Like many, I had never heard of Jorge Bergoglio and so knew NOTHING about him at all.

Not wanting to scandalise my family I didn't say anything about my discomfort which was tinged with a feeling of angst - but my daughter piped out "Who is THIS one?" in a critical way.

I remember saying to her - "He is probably overwhelmed and nervous, that's why he seems a bit odd". I wanted to defend him.

When he said that now "normal" "buonasera" I felt uncomfortable and even embarrassed - don't ask me why. And then when he asked to be prayed over on the spot in silence ... well, that kind of finished me.

I hit the internet and found out a lot about him immediately - and the roller-coaster of my emotions which have paralleled the roller -coaster of papal actions and words for more than a year began.

Thank you Boniface for the opportunity to say all this. It is really good to know I am not alone.

No true Catholic wants to think badly of the Holy Father and I pray for Pope Francis everyday, despite the turmoil he has put me through since his election.


Aneas said...

I was at work streaming the coverage of the conclave on my computer at work. I remember hearing the announcement about of white smoke and being SO excited! I remembered seeing Ratzinger come out, stretching his hands and smiling with such energy and joy. I remembered my eyes welling with tears of happiness for this obvious gift from God. I was expecting the same joy. My heart reeled when Francis stepped out- cold, unexpresive, not wearing the traditional papal vestments. I felt sick and very unsettled. Definitely a bad feeling. I knew literally nothing about him, but was seized with a sense of foreboding.

Capreolus said...

I was almost instantly dismayed and even a little bit afraid: the new Pope looked so strange and almost hostile, arms straight down at his sides, no smile, etc. The good Msgr. Marini looked like he was trying to appear happy but seemed crushed. That was my immediate impression at any rate. I'm not sure anything I've learned since has substantially altered it.
--Fr. Capreolus

St. Benedict's Thistle said...

Like so many others I had the same reaction. When Pope Francis came out onto the balcony and I saw him, a sense of dread came over me. I did not know him from Adam, had not paid much attention to the conclave, so was expecting nothing other than joy that we had a new pope. The feeling of dread was all the more disconcerting because I had no opinion or knowledge of Cardinal Bergolio at all.

Throwback said...

I was confused. Utterly. I knew a bit about His Eminence due to googling, etc back when he was rumored to have finished second to then-Cardinal Ratzinger. Anyways, nothing about the more recent conclave made sense, as I laid out here:

After the confusion subsided, the sense of foreboding you describe set in. I couldn't (and haven't) been able to get past the idea that this papacy is viewed as an opportunity by all the wrong people.

wewjude said...

la reaction was almost identical to yours.

Extreme excitement at seeing the white smoke, immediate and extreme foreboding as Bergoglio stood on the loggia in that bizarre trance-like state.

Weirdness does not even begin to describe Bergoglio's initial moments...I can't imagine any public person (especially a bishop/cardinal) acting in such a way.

The intervening months have done nothing to quell those initial negative feelings.

Anonymous said...

I remember being so excited waiting for the newly elected Vicar of Christ to appear, my heart was pounding. I was hoping for Burke or Ranjith but I knew that there were probably quite a few worthy cardinals.

When Bergoglio was announced and appeared on the balcony I felt oddly dead inside, a feeling I am not accustomed to. I quickly did some background reading on him and tried to pump myself up. I want to love the Holy Father and absorb everything he has to say.
I have given up trying to figure him out. I am completely befuddled.

Martha Rose

Chris Conrad said...

I felt a palpable unease about Jorge Bergolio ever since I saw the first photograph of him with Pope Bendedict XVI following the papal conclave. Nothing he has done since then has dispelled this unease. He has become the sower of confusion within the flock. Nothing about this is good, for the Faith or for the faithful. The world grows darker by the day. God help us.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of an on-line Catholic forum and we were having so much fun speculating who the next Pontiff would be. We each also "adopted" a Cardinal to pray for, not necessarily our choice. My adoptee was the Cardinal from Barcelona but I was pinning my hope on Australia's Pell or even Scola.

When the new Pope stepped into the loggia, looking like a zombie, I felt a kick in my stomach. He just stood there, staring in space and I was embarrassed for him. I felt a strong sense of dread and almost cried. But I'm a Catholic and felt it was unfair that I should feel bad about a Pope I've never even heard of.

Now it so happened that my Eucharistic adoration partner is from Argentina and I thought talking and rejoicing with her would take away my bad feelings. So I called her and congratulated her, laughed with her and tried to sound happy for her that our new pope is from her country.

Then, remembering that she has just been home in Buenos Aires, I reminded her of telling me that she went to a Traditional Latin Mass there somewhere. I asked her where in Buenos Aires was this TLM. She answered the Latin Mass she attended was not in Buenos Aires but in Sao Paolo. My heart sank. Rorate was right.

Since then, my heart went further and further down. When Pope Francis mocked the 3000-Rosary spiritual bouquet offered him by well wishers. When he knelt down before a muslim prisoner to abuse Holy Thursday liturgy. When all the blogging pundits I read tried to spin what he said and did during the year and made them appear to be in harmony with Church's teachings.

Upon reading the Scalfari interview and other interviews. Each time he denigrates Catholics who likes tradition. (I am a Summorum Pontificum traditionalist.) When he called older people who go to the Latin Mass as "nostalgic for past things that are no longer necessary," and the young Latin Mass enthusiasts as "addicted to the fad," and indicate that like other fashions, the TLM too, will pass.

It got so bad with me that I must have had "Francis" written all over my sad and ugly face each time I meet a traditional priest, because the first question he asks is, "So what did the Pope say this time?"

That bad.

Pray for me.

M. Prodigal said...

I was rather pleased with the name Francis but I had heard of him and had the impression that he was of a liberal bent and, of course, he is a modern Jesuit which-sadly-says a lot. But very soon I knew we were in for a very long papacy and within months his trashing and name calling of those who wish to embrace the fullness of Catholic teachings and traditions seconded the initial concern. He dislikes faithful traditional Catholics and kisses the hands of non-Catholics and homosexuals. Not a good sign.

Anonymous said...

I had in my mind that Benedict was far too smart and traditionalist to become the first "Pope Emeritus" without good reason.

I thought that Benedict would promote a young, dynamic, traditionalist pope---one who could sit on the throne for at least two decades. Benedict would be his right hand, guiding him, and, in the meanwhile, Benedict himself would use his new obscurity to cleanse the church of much of the Gay and Liberal traps for the unwary.

Now Benedict's resignation continues to puzzle me.

Православный физик said...

My first thoughts were "who"?

I was very uneasy about him, I despised the fact he wasn't in proper choir dress, and it seemed like he really didn't wish to be there. I was an 11 on the weary scale of 1-10, but now it's 100

May his pontificate be short, and Cardinal Ranjith take his office...I find myself repeating that way too much.

He seems in such discontinuity with the past, everything...We must have really screwed up to deserve this kind of punishment.

Anonymous said...

I had no clear thoughts, but was thrown into terrible confusion and anxiety. I started crying (NOT my usual style) as I was watching the new Pope, saying out loud "But I WANT to like him, I really do!"

For a while I defended him and tried to look at everything positively, despite what Rorate said. Then, that first Holy Thursday produced a cold, dead, 'thud' in my heart. I saw that there was no humility, just showboating. And it's just gone downhill from there.

Anonymous said...

I too had hoped for Ranjith. Though I never experienced a sinking or sick feeling and though I had been feeling hopeful there was a note of incompleteness when he was announced and stepped out onto the loggia. I had good will toward him and I accepted him as the duly elected Pope but I felt like something notable was lacking. Here I don't refer to accomplishments as he was only in the first moments of his pontificate. Instead I am suggesting a kind of signal note, something telling which unmistakably bears the marks and conveys the scent of the Petrine mystery. I still find that key note lacking, even though I accept him as our Pope. I still hope that through special graces the office itself will equip and grow the man. I don't doubt the personal holiness and good will of Pope Francis. I just hope that he will step up to his current role in a way that inspires confidence in the universal flock. I pray for Saint Joseph and Saint Peter to strengthen Francis and grant him a vision for the days ahead.

Anonymous said...

Voy a expresarlo en castellano porque no manejo el inglés. Como soy argentino, conocía al Cardenal Bergoglio por ser el primado de mi país. La sensación que tuve fue de escalofrío. Sensación que nunca había tenido. Me corrió un frío por la espalda que nunca olvidaré. Los sucesos posteriores, los de su gobierno diario de la iglesia, no han logrado entibiar mi espalda; al contrario, ese escalofrío se va acentuando.

Dr. Mabuse said...

I followed the link here from Steve Skojek's site, so I'll post what I posted there. I'd never heard of Bergoglio. A day or so earlier, I'd even said to my husband that no matter who was elected Pope, he'd be a complete stranger to me. I didn't have any preferred candidate, I just didn't know any of these guys. (And I was still reeling from Benedict's abandonment of us.)

I'd been watching the TV coverage since the white smoke, and naturally there was a lot of time to fill, so the TV cameras had been showing a lot of closeup shots of the crowd. It was wet and dark, but I noticed how young a lot of the people there were - young families with children, even teenagers. Everyone very cheerful and excited.

Then Bergoglio came out on the balcony, and my stomach dropped. He glared out at that happy, hopeful crowd of sheep, like a general surveying a city he was about to assault and destroy. There was a demonic presence in that scene. I knew he was evil. When I heard he was from Argentina, my first thought was "Can any good come out of South America?" I haven't changed my mind in any way at all since that day.

MarvinDante33 said...

I didn't have internet at the time, so I was watching online at the public library with bated breath. I began to feel that something had gone horribly wrong. I felt as if I had suddenly entered a thick, oppressive fog. I felt heavy, and suddenly very, very concerned. "Habemus papam" sounded like the announcement of a terrible plague, worse than the Black Death. My mind's ear heard solemn bells tolling a funeral peal.

Not That Guy said...

Even though I didn't follow much of the speculation prior to the conclave and that I didn't even know who many of the Cardinals were who were possibilities, I still felt underwhelmed immediately upon hearing the outcome. I first learned of it via text from a friend who sent something along the lines of: we have a Pope, Francis the First, a Jesuit from South America.

I recall almost immediately seeing some commentary about the fact that he was not one of "those" Jesuits, meaning that he was in fact orthodox and unlike the image of the Jesuits that many have today.

So that was about the extent of my knowledge of the situation on the first day. I felt largely underwhelmed, even with the qualification that Francis was not really like other contemporary Jesuits, which to me has not turned out to be true.

I can say now that I feel very disoriented by him and very uneasy. I am suspicious. I am confused. That feeling began not long after my initial impression just recounted. With the Holy Thursday foot washing last year, and then with some scattered comments last spring, and then more fully with the various interviews he gave, I became increasingly confused and annoyed in turn. I did not know if we were sent some kind of prophet who has turning the Church on her head, as if we had all along gotten things wrong, or if we had someone who largely (though perhaps ignorantly) in error and the bewilderment was because a rightful Catholic common sense or consciousness was being offended by nearly daily or weekly modernistic, wayward intrusions.

I am very confused to this day and it's painful.

c matt said...

I had never heard of him either (at least not that I could recall), so I really had no particular reaction. My "sinking feeling" did not come until I learned he was Argentinean and a Jesuit (having up close and personal experience of both). Particularly when he was touted as humble, which is practically an oxymoron when coupled with Argentinean. Maybe my reaction is best described as suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Like most of the Commentators,I was not happy with how the conclave turned out. It was too much for my mom to hear my sense of discomfort with the pope. Back in 2005,I was elated to know that around midnight,we had a new pope(I wasn't very happy either at first with Pope Benedict who was once a WWII soldier and I was then a Theological Letist of sorts)after a period of waiting. Now that I am a Tradtionalist the FFI crisis was the last straw in my heart after trying to see good in him. Josemaria from the Philipines

Anonymous said...

I was dreaming with Ranjith also, staring at the monitor. When I heard the name "Marius" I knew it was Bergoglio. And I knew who Bergoglio was, since my office is located two block from the Bs. As. Cathedral.

I grasped my head with my hands and started to scream -Nooooooooooo!!!!!-, while receding back on my chair.

Then the sun went dark, and the moon started to bleed.

I am not recovered yet. On the contrary, every day gets worse.


Boniface said...

Vladimir, or any of you from Argentina, can you provide some more details about the episcopal administration of Cardinal Bergoglio? What had he done (or not done) to give you such a negative assessment?

Anonymous said...

When the name was announced and the pope emerged, I was confused. I felt something sinister, but could not explain it to myself. It dawned on me a few minutes later, that he wasn't properly dressed. It was then truly that I felt a loss of the hope I had before that particular time. "A pope not properly dressed?", I thought, "Could this be the realization of Mosebach's book, The Heresy of Formlessness?" My thoughts were that his casual appearance meant that he cared for no form or formality.

philip james

Anonymous said...

I'm affraid the list is too long for a comment.
If you are so kind to provide me an email address, i'd send you what Jack Tollers wrote about it.
Or write direct to him:


Whiskerer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boniface said...

Hey Vladimir. I do not put my email out online in the combox, but you can reach me directly through the contact form here:

Anonymous said...

But I can't add a word file, with Jack Toller's article.

Here is my rudimentary contribution:

"¿It is not enough what he has done as Pope?

As Archbishop, as long as I remember:

- Prohibition of SPV mass.
- Deceptive permission to celebrate that mass in only one church, with liturgical abuses and mistakes made on purpose that made assistants almost cry. With he’s usual double standard. He did it for the records, to be seen from Rome. Not long after, even this mass was suspended.
- Common celebrations with other religions. Specially with the jews
- Persecution of every priest who dared to preach an orthodox doctrine or a decent liturgy –Novus Ordo-. I knew personally 3 of them. One had the very bad idea to introduce gregorian chants in his parish and was removed and was put in charge of a madhouse’s chaplaincy.
- When Bishop Bargalló, head of Caritas Argentina, was caught with a woman in a paradisiac beach in México, he celebrated a mass in the bishop’s cathedral with all the argentinian bishops, praising the lover bishop and claiming it was a political ambush. Not a word about his behaviour.
- He never preached other thing than social and economic inequalities, democratic nonsenses, and that kind of stuff.
- Before the Sodomite Marriage law was passed, he discouraged every organization or person wich intended to organize protests, make lobby against, etc. As usual, he didnt left his fingerprints as proofs, and in total secrecy, he sent the most orthodox letter to some nuns asking for prayers and qualifying the gay marriage as a thing from de devil. Again, to be seen from Rome. In the book “El Jesuita”, he stated totally the contrary, and proposed or implied some kind of legal protections for gays.
- He sheltered and promoted Bishop Sucunza, a renowned adulterer, proved as such in a judicial file.
- During a controversy around a baptism requested by a famous transsexual and his female couple, he went out in a sermon condemning the priests which use to reject baptisms requested by single mothers, when there weren’t such kind of rejections at all. The objective, nevertheless, was other and the infamous couple obtained what they wanted, without any scandal.
- He allowed almost any kind of profanations of the Bs. As. Cathedral.
- A recalcitrant hatred against everything and everybody with traditionalist smell.
- Communion in the hand as norm.
- As you have already seen in Francis, any type of heterodoxies as well being Bergoglio. Wrong ecumenism. Everybody is saved. No repentance needed, democracy as the unique government form, not to talk about state confessionalism.

The list goes on and on…


Boniface said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I deleted myself! Please delete yours! ja ja ja.

Tantumblogo said...

I remember it very well. I was sort of live-blogging the announcement. I was, like many, initially very happy when the announcement of the white smoke was made, but for some reason even before the name was announced, I had a sense of foreboding. Wasn't the decision reached very quickly? Hadn't there been signs this conclave had behaved a bit strangely?

Then I heard the name, and said "who?" From where? At first, I was somewhat excited, but changed to dread even before the unbecoming act on the papal balcony. Rorate, I think, had some news on the new pope even before he was formally presented. Or their commenters did. I really fought for some time trying to be positive, to try to dismiss the rapidly accumulating evidence, but by Holy Thursday I was pretty well convinced we had a true progressive in the papacy. Again.

Perhaps that judgment was not fair. This pope plays many angles, you might even call them games. He says very different things to different people. His interviews, his homilies, his political speeches, his "off the cuff" remarks....all seem suited to a certain purpose, one I have been reticent to fully develop, publicly, but I imagine many here can get what I am angling at.

But I think there may be more opposition to the giddy re-enactment of the 60s that the modernists in the Church are so openly desperate for. We'll see.

Rural Catholic said...

I saved this website from last year because it expressed so well what I was feeling...foreboding, saddness and dread when the pope stepped out on the balcony. I confess that I did have a minor 'tip-off' on the nature of the man by the fact that Cd. Mahony was eccstatic about his election.
I try not to think about this pope at all and pray for him everyday. God is in control. God is merciful and just. Pray for our beloved Church, His bride.

MJC said...

My reactions to the revelations of both Benedict and Francis on the loggia were identical to yours, Boniface.

In the first case (when at the time I knew little about Card. Ratzinger, other than the media portrayal of a dry, conservative legalist) there was a joy and yes a filial devotion which surprised me. In the latter, though knowing absolutely nothing of Bergoglio, a definite sense of foreboding. My stomach sank hard. In fact, I would say that I could not have penned my own thoughts better than you did above. Like you, I know of others with the same experience, and yes it does seem now a real phenomenon.

It might be worth noting that others I know - faithful but hardened VII-believers of the baby boom generation - saw a "humble" man with a wonderful smile, and were much enamoured and pleased (and still are).

It is as if under Francis a chasm has opened between two halves of the Church. Or perhaps it has been with us for 50 years, and merely now been made visible: overt and undeniable. The "blogosphere" screams of it, of faithful Catholics (and I don't speak of the "liberal progressives") diametrically opposed. Come Francis' October revolution, I ask will we see this gulf made permanent.

DvoraOCDS said...

"When Jorge Bergoglio stepped out onto the loggia for the very first time on that drizzly evening in 2013, what was your initial gut reaction?"

I felt prayerful and hopeful. And grateful. I felt called to pray and suffer for the Successor of Peter like never before, and to read and follow his Magisterium with greater fidelity than ever before.

David said...

I was with my parish priest watching it, and it was raining at the time.

I thought that Cardinal Tauran was drunk or had some kind of disease because of the weird way he spoke and waved his head around. I was sad and very disappointed when Cardinal Bergoglio came out, because I had been hoping for Cardinal Burke, Ranjith, Cafarra, Oullet or Scola. I knew his name and that he was from Argentina and that was about it. When his papal name was announced I thought "Francis"=I'm a peace hippie, and I'm brand new (no Pope has ever had this name).

Anonymous said...

Utterly deflated, and sadness promulgated by the sight of a complete stranger, for which I initially felt guilty. Now I know my soul was in mourning.

-Priscilla B..

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had a positive reaction?

Anonymous said...

In our house we were really excited. Seeing a Pope come out on the balcony for the first time is witnessing history first hand. I think he is a wonderful Pope and I think it is unhealthy to pursue initial gut reactions which are not rational and try to draw them out of others. God always surprises us and we have to accept those surprises with humility.

Mrs. Mike said...

It is a day that honestly I'd rather not re-live. I had high hopes but when PF came out on the balcony, my heart sank. I asked my husband (who is fairly well-read and knew who most of the top contenders were) if he knew him and he could only shrug his shoulders because he could only stare at the TV dumbfounded, shocked, confused...and yes, deeply troubled. But for what reason? We couldn't put a finger on it. Suffice it to say, I think I pray more now for (and about) the Holy Father than any other previous pope.

Anonymous said...

I too was filled with foreboding. Part I think was due to the ideas of St. Malachi and Malachi Martin. Also during a visit to Italy, one of the cathedrals, I can't remember which, had a busts of all the popes; the guide pointed out that there was only one more place.

Part was due to Bergolio's demeanor. Yean, he looks like not himself. And then I found out he was a Jesuit eek...,, We are in for a pruning I think.


Anonymous said...

Me again:

I need to give a more complete picture. My feelings were conflicting.
Pope Francis is an answer to a prayer. If God is to give the developed world up to our hedonistic ways, to spare the little ones in faith, all the millions of poor, poorly educated people who are at the mercy of their rulers. I don't know about this pope but I can trust God.


Woody said...

I was at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem and watched the announcement on the TV in the lounge area with lots of other pilgrims. Although I had known that Abbé de Nantes had very high hopes for Bergoglio, going back to the early 2000s I think, I also understood that he had been the Martini faction's candidate in 2005, so had mixed feelings about him even then. When he showed up on the balcony I had a feeling of unease made worse by his actions there. Nevertheless we all trooped to the chapel to pray the Regnum Christi Prayer for the Pope, in my case hoping for the best. After returning to the US and starting to read what he said, at first I had high hopes given his reference to the devil and so on, but on the whole it now seems clear that my early, say April 2013, premonition that this was the return of Paul VI has been verified.

Unknown said...

Boniface ... it's a bit disconcerting that so many people have had similar reactions to Bergoglio's first appearance on the loggia, but, on the other hand, I'm glad I wasn't the only one. I've reproached myself many times over the way I felt that day, but now feel a sense of relief after reading your post and those of others.

All I can say is that when I saw him walk out and stand there, I felt ... dispirited. Something felt distinctly wrong about the whole moment, as if we had crossed some invisible threshold into an estate shaded from the light that animated Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger upon their elections.

'Do something,' I recall saying to the motionless image on the television screen. I wanted to see him to give some sort of reassuring sign; and outward demonstration of interior piety. But there was nothing, not even after his remarks and initial prayer.

Ironically enough, before the announcement, I remember looking a list of papabiles and making an offhand remark to a friend that "if they elect Bergoglio, we're having a bad day."

I encourage readers to view related posts about Pope Francis on my blog:

David G. said...

Your article is amazing because I had the same reaction but have not heard anyone else say that before. I was at work, and a non-Catholic colleague mentioned that there was white smoke. So I went into my office and turned on the computer expecting good news. I do not know many cardinals so that fact that this one was unknown to me does not explain my reaction. When Bergoglio came out my heart sank. Foreboding is a good word for what I felt. Since the other non-Catholics and anti-Catholics were waiting for my reaction I tried to act pleased. But that feeling has never left me. I had just the opposite reaction when Benedict was elected, although I did not know much about him either. Very strange.

Thomas said...

I was surprised and almost stunned to read your comments tonight, because I thought I was the only one, or one of few, who sensed a foreboding with this election. My reaction was almost identical to yours, and I could not explain it. Of course, recent events and publications have clarified my premonition.

Brian said...

This is incredible. I think we're witnessing something of the sensus fidelium with this post. The Holy Spirit resides in each one of us; what we all felt in common may well have been from Him.

Notions romaines said...

I was thrilled like all the Sons of the Church are when a new Pope is elected and chosen to take the Chair of S. Peter. However, I cooled down when he asked people to pray for him before giving his blessing. I knew (well felt) something was wrong afterwards.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty interesting. While I did not feel any "evil" or "foreboding," I do remember feeling a bit disappointed and uncomfortable.

The most distinct memory I have of the time is my brother asking me "What do you think of the new Pope?"

I gave him a very upbeat, even chirpy reply: "I like him!"

I lied. But I try not to be negative about the church in front of those who are not Catholic, or are weakly so.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to vomit. Seriously, my stomach was wrenched as I sad there watching the computer screen. It was only my staff around me that helped me keep my stomach in check. I drove him and called a friend and we were the same. I had a sense of literal horror and that an evil presence has come upon the Church.

I am shocked by the very fact that I felt this and that I am writing this.


Tony said...

I was non-plussed. That is, I didn't have any specific negative feelings about him personally, but I had this overall sense of anxiety, or at least caution, about his papacy. Less definite than "foreboding" but leaning in that direction - a mild sense of something like "well, I suppose maybe this is OK." I certainly had no sense of joy or elation such as when JPII or Benedict were announced. And while I tried very hard to be more open to the possibility of his being a great pope, I had to make the effort to think that, it wasn't easy.

To be fair, though, I can't think of a reason why the Holy Spirit would work his way through the non-reasoned feelings of the faithful to be repelled by the new Pope, rather than through the conclave or through more definite means than almost indescribable feelings. What would be the point? Generally we aren't supposed to "trust your feelings" like Luke Skywalker, we are supposed to trust the Church (and God who guides her).

Cosmos said...

Same as many... I was struck with a foreboding.

Karen said...

To tell you the truth, I had a bad feeling throughout the entire conclave, not that it was very long, and when the white smoke appeared, I was really afraid, yes, I felt fear. As soon as I saw him, my stomach sank along with my heart. His looks really made me want to draw back and I felt like we were in trouble. I have never felt this before and I am 63 years old. This was also a new phenomenon for me. I couldn't explain it and I didn't even acknowledge it at the time But now that you have brought this up, I went back to that day and relived this weird experience. I am still very uneasy.

_ said...

I had sick feeling in my stomach, i felt just awful. I knew right away something wasn't right with this pope.. sure enough.

Jamey said...

I was camping at the time but had my laptop with me - soon as I saw the photos of Francis I felt like Nate C, sick and a bad gut feel.

A friend of mine when he saw Ratzinger walk on the loggia in 2005 said "Phew we will be ok". When he saw Bergoglio instantly he thought "we are in trouble".

Unknown said...

I expected that I was one of only a handful of people who had this reaction, but now I see that I was far from alone.

Like so many here, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when the name was announced. I tried to power through my feelings of unease by being excited about his choice of name (which, despite my many misgivings about his actions as Pontiff, I still like). I also tried to convince myself that I was just disappointed that it wasn't Burke, Ranjith, or one of a handful of others that had been elected.

I will quote myself on Twitter when he was out on the balcony: "I can't shake the image of Paul VI from my mind as I look at him. Don't know if that's good or bad."

Anonymous said...

I was jogging in the countryside with a friend of mine when we suddenly heard the bells of a nearby church. We guessed something was up and ran to watch the TV. I was so excited and quite confident, almost overjoyed. I had personally prayed for the election of Mgr. Burke, even if I hadn't much hope it would happen, but I was pretty sure Scola or at least Ouellet would be elected, and the quick election seemed to confirm it had indeed happened. But when the new pope appeared on the loggia... my heart sank. I didn't know him, I had absolutely no idea who he was, I didn't even notice he wasn't dressed properly, but I was definitely filled with dread. And worse, I couldn't explain why. I tried hard to convince myself that he was smiling, and that it couldn't be a bad thing, that he looked kind, but it didn't work. I was so ashamed of my reaction, and as the others around me seemed to be quite happy about the new pope, I lied, and told them that he looked wonderful, that he had a good smile, etc. I thought I was alone, and tried to forget it, but ... well, it seems my fears were justified. A foreboding of the terrible papcy that was to come

Anonymous said...

I remember that I was so excited for our new pope to walk out but as soon as I saw the man staring coldly from the balcony, I got this sick, dark, almost frightening feeling that came over me. I didn't know 1 thing about this man but my gut feeling was something bad had just happened to our Church. I couldn't shake the feeling and so I started researching him on the internet to disprove my feelings. The feeling about him has never left me .

Anonymous said...

I had earlier joined a group where each member "adopted" a Cardinal to pray for during the conclave. Mine was the Archbishop of Barcelona Lluis Martinez Sistach, who I didn't know, either, but pervently prayed for his wisdom in voting for a new Pope. I Wouldn't have minded if it were him or Card. Pell or Card. Scola who was elected.

That it took the new Pope so long to get out to the balcony after the white smoke has dissipated cooled my already mild enthusiasm considerably - imagine that - even before I saw the new Pope or learned his name, I felt cold. So I left the television and went to complete a household task. I thought my feeling low might have been because I was still mourning for Pope Benedict having resigned.

When the new Pope Francis finally came on, I felt pain in my heart and my stomach and started to cry. He stood there, catatonic like a zombie, giving a weak one-hand wave. [That didn't look like a blessing, was it?]

The TV screen looked dark, too, and the new Pope's wearing dark glasses didn't dispel my dark mood. How unlike the light and joy Benedict exuded when he came out on the loggia radiant in papal garment and embracing the world with both arms!

And when instead of Francis blessing the people, it was he who asked for their blessing, I "knew" we were in trouble.

Have you ever felt ashamed of yourself to yourself? As I was alone, I wanted to look away from the TV, but was compelled, half-scolding myself for being so "prejudiced." So I stayed looking, my heart sinking like lead.

And to prove to myself I wasn't prejudiced, I called my Argeninian friend - who was then rejoicing - and rejoiced with her, hiding my heavy heart. Like two little girls, we laughed and screamed for joy on the phone and chatted about how proud Argentina would be of this her new Pope.

But when I hang up, the dark feeling remained. I turned the TV off.


Anonymous said...

As a catholic of over 60 years old I too experienced a sense of dread and foreboding when Pope Francis first appeared on the loggia after being elected.

I knew nothing about him then and was quite prepared to accept him despite initial misgivings which I knew were based entirely on immediate sensory data & therefore possibly faulty .

As time went on I now know based on his statements and conduct, almost for certain, that I cannot trust the man , believe he is bad for the church & wish for his immediate departure.

Anonymous said...

The thing which got me were his first words.."Good evening!"

Um....yes....nice night, isn't it?

Is this the most spiritually profound thought which could be put forth at the beginning of a papacy? Sorry, but I vividly remember St. John Paull II's "be not afraid" which instantaneously galvanized me and the entire Catholic world, mired as we were in the middle of the Cold War and threats all around us.

But "good evening"?

"Good evening to you, too. Have a nice night."

Michael Kakooza said...

I had prayed for the election of either cardinal Burke or Cardinal Ranjith, both of whom I continue to admire immensely. The Cardinal Tauran appeared on the balcony and announced! I was like "Whooooo? Who is he?!"
I sensed an ideological agenda when he appeared in only the papal cassock, when he dramatically asked the gathered throngs to pray for him, and lastly when he quite abruptly and evident divested himself of the papal stole, worn with such dignity by his predecessors, after imparting the Urbi et Orbi.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Mabuse, I felt exactly the same about the way he looked at the assembled crowd beneath him. It seemed to go on interminably too, which just added even more to my discomfiture. The people were going nuts, and I just thought they were literally like lambs to the slaughter. Everything was just so wrong that night, and again, like you, I had a feeling of "something wicked this way comes". To top it all, the BBC wheeled out the Liberal Catholic Guard within seconds of him going back inside. They'd all been prepped, they all knew more about this man than was possible and they were simply gushing over him. It seemed like the whole result had been a fix. Far too prominent was Emeritus-Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor from the UK, too old to vote, but now named, by those who believe there was a conspiracy, as a prime mover-and-shaker in Bergoglio's election. I can remember him being down in the Square itself literally jumping for joy. Seemed he had hot-footed it from the vicinity of the Sistine with indecent haste. I will never forget all this as long as I live. I will also never forget how I wept like a baby the last time Benedict blessed us from the balcony at Castelgandolfo. I felt orphaned as I didn't even feel when I lost my own parents. I didn't even cry for them like I did for Papa Benedict that evening.

Anonymous said...

I did not see the television coverage live, but I distinctly remember the huge headlines on the ABC website here in Australia. The first thing that struck me was the name he chose. It seems to be a very deliberate choice to distinguish or distance himself from those that proceeded him. It was only some days later a sense of concern set in. It was especially present when I realized that Benedict XVI shared the same Christian name as Pius X, who prophesied one of his successors fleeing the vatican over the bodies of his fellow priests. Add to the fact that Russia is poised to attack Ukraine and that we are now barely 2 years from the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. I sense we are about to enter a very dark night for the world. I do honestly pray for Pope Francis but the last 2 years since his election have done nothing to lessen my fears. The fact he refuses or is reluctant to use the title of Pope and refuses to (or can't?) live in the apostolic palace only increases the sense of disconnection from his predecessors. One side effects is my Rosary is becoming more frequent. May Our Lord and Our Lady bless all of you.

Boniface said...

Vladimir, would you be willing to share about your experiences of knowledge of Bergoglio from your time in Buenos Aires? Email at

Anonymous said...

Didn't know anything about him. When I first saw him, I was troubled. He looked like an evil specter staring down at the people in complete indifference. Very weird experience. I pray for him, but I don't love him. I miss Benedict very much.

Anonymous said...

I was absolutely horrified as I watched Bergoglio appear on the loggia. In those interminable moments before he spoke, whilst I was willing for our new Papa to hold out his arms to welcome us, his children in Christ. I was remembering B16 coming out on to the loggia and how happy I had felt even though I had not yet entered the Church. this time with Bergoglio I 'knew' that all was not well, that we were not safe, that the Church and it's teachings ware not safe in his hands (that reason itself was at risk). In real time it seemed as though an eternity had passed from his appearance to him speaking. As for him asking the people to pray for him - he was focused on himself from the outset instead of on us his flock. I hoped that my reading of that look on his face (as though he knew that a mistake had been made in electing him) and his body language was at fault . I did not know anything about him. I had listened to almost every audience of B16 on Radio Vaticana. I stopped listening from March 13, 2013 as I instantly experienced a complete aversion to the sound of PF's voice (quite apart from what he may say). I pray for him daily. I only told my closest friend about my experience at the time as I hoped that my gut reaction was wrong and that my fears would not be realized.

Ragnail said...

And he spoke to them as one with no authority.