In October, Pope Francis performed his first Episcopal ordinations. In his sermon, Francis urged the newly consecrated archbishops, to "always respond immediately when a priest calls... Never let a priest wait in an audience".
Let's review the practical way that he implemented his own advice when he was a bishop.
he was made auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. By and large, the ordinary clergy of the diocese grew fond of their bishop. He
did something simple but revolutionary: setting up a phone line that was
exclusively for priests who needed to call him and he would encourage them to
use it, at all times of the day and during the night.
Bishop Bergoglio had a strict code of coming in person to
the aid of his priests, staying with them in crises, or keeping a bedside vigil
with priests who were elderly and/or in bad health.
He was known in the early 1990s as a bishop who would seek to know the details of how his priests were helping impoverished parishioners.
Returning to present day, when Pope Francis consecrated the two new archbishops (Archbishop Speich and Archbishop Gloder) he underlined a 'bishop's love', elaborating that, 'love all those whom God entrusts to you, with a fatherly and brotherly love.'
The 'all' part may seem unrealistic, there are so many people on the margins of society that seem beyond our reach.
But when he was a bishop, Pope Francis would spend his
days traveling around the diocese, so that he could keep poor people company, dish out steaming bowls to the hungry in soup kitchens and visit Aids victims. The time and context of visiting the Aids sufferers is not to be brushed aside - it was immediately after the 80's Aids panic. In Buenos Aires, there was an underbelly of Aids victims who were dying alone, in pain, in stigma, often treated as an embarrassment, often in poverty, and in that time before the new wave of powerful drugs that would alleviate the dire symptoms of Aids.
The question for the new bishops that Pope Francis has elevated to the Episcopacy, must be, who are the equivalent of Aids victims today? By finding that answer, they will be striving to answer Francis' directive to embrace 'all' with love.