Five years ago today, Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran announced what the Church and entire world had been anxiously awaiting:
Habemus Papam! Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Bergoglio, qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
“We have a Pope! The most eminent and reverend lord, Lord Jorge Mario, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Bergoglio, who takes to himself the name Francis.”
The initial signs of the first Jesuit Pope – selected from “the ends of the earth,” as he described himself during his first public address – seemed positive. His chosen name, another first in Church history, bespoke two powerful Saints: Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226), to whom Christ said (as recorded by St. Bonaventure), “Francis, go and repair My House, which, as thou seest, is falling utterly into ruin” (The Life of Saint Francis, Chapter II, sect. 1); and Francis Xavier (1506-1552), the renowned Jesuit missionary who personally baptized many thousands of converts in India, southeast Asia, and Japan.
The morning after his election, the new Pope kept his word “to go and pray to Our Lady” (first public address) by visiting the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and venerating Her famous icon, Salus Populi Romani (“Salvation of the Roman People”). Later that day, during his first papal sermon, he declared with striking clarity: “When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: ‘Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.’ When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.”
And perhaps most astounding, roughly one month later (April 2013) it was revealed that Pope Francis had personally asked the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal to consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.
Five years later, amidst the ongoing chaos and destruction long since synonymous with this pontificate, we can only shake our heads in amazement and confess that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is not the man we thought he was.
“If you speak to the Catholics of Buenos Aires, they will tell you of the miraculous change that has taken over Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Their dour, unsmiling archbishop was turned overnight into the smiling, jolly Pope Francis, the idol of the people with whom he so fully identifies. If you speak to anyone working in the Vatican, they will tell you about the miracle in reverse. When the publicity cameras are off him, Pope Francis turns into a different figure: arrogant, dismissive of people, prodigal of bad language and notorious for furious outbursts of temper which are known to everyone from the cardinals to the chauffeurs.”
Although Pope Francis is clearly not the man many (including myself) had hoped he was – in fact, he may even be “a destroyer” foretold by St. Francis of Assisi – Our Lord’s guarantee that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” His Church (Matt. 16:18) remains, as does Our Lady of Fatima’s promise: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
Let us redouble our prayers and penances, especially during this season of Lent, and thus do our part to hasten Her triumph!
 Colonna, Marcantonio. The Dictator Pope (Kindle Locations 22-26). Kindle Edition.