Fr. Michael Rogers, SJ, who was a deacon just a few months shy of priestly ordination on that day, had been in the Vatican Radio studios earlier in the day, for the black smoke at the end of the inconclusive morning session. Now, he was in the Square. “None of us expected it would actually happen that night,” he recently recalled in a conversation with Vatican Radio looking back on the heady days of the papal transition period that culminated in the first-ever election of one of his confreres to the See of Peter.
A year on, and the Church and the world are still feeling the “Francis Effect” – a phenomenon as palpably real as it is difficult to quantify or qualify. “I think it’s a matter of excitement,” Fr. Rogers SJ offered, adding, “I think it’s a matter of recapturing imaginations.” Asked about the attempt among some in communications media to construct a narrative of opposition between the papacy of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Fr. Rogers SJ said that the facts tell a quite different story: of deep continuity rooted in mutual affection and esteem. “You look at these two men, and it is clear that these two men are friends,” he said.