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West Island MP recounts how “quiet simplicity” reigned at inaugural mass in Rome

After attending Pope Francis’ inaugural mass in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday, federal West Island MP Francis Scarpaleggia described the historic event as the highlight of an already amazing trip to Rome with Canada’s official delegation lead by Governor General David Johnston.

Since arriving in Rome on Sunday, the official Canadian delegation has gone from one enriching experience to the next, including being received at the Canadian Pontifical College in Vatican City by a group of Canadian cardinals, among them Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

But the federal Liberal MP for Lac St. Louis said the inaugural mass with the newly selected spiritual leader to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and the first Jesuit to be named pope in the Catholic church’s history, was in a class all of its own.

The Jesuit order played an instrumental role in the early growth of New France and, in establishing constructive relations with aboriginal peoples, notably the Huron nation.

“St. Peter’s square was full….the setting was grand and spectacular yet a quiet simplicity reigned,” wrote Scarpaleggia wrote in an email to the West Island Gazette in which he shared his impressions.

“As the mass began, the contained excitement of the crowd yielded to a spiritual calm,” he went on. “The atmosphere turned ethereal with the choir’s singing.”

“While the installation of the new pope has special significance for Catholics, it also speaks to members of other Christians denominations, as well as to those of other religious faiths, all of which sent representatives to Rome for the inaugural mass,” he went on.

He said the surprise selection of a Jesuit carried a special meaning for him and many other West Islanders, who have a connection to Montreal’s Jesuit community by virtue of having attended Montreal’s Loyola High School. He said he graduated from Loyola in 1974.

“Pope Francis’ message of humility and service to the poor underscores the need for human solidarity in the quest for a better and more peaceful world rooted in social and economic justice,” he concluded.

Scarpaleggia was chosen to  be part of the Canadian delegation because he is  chairman of the national Liberal party caucus.

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