Rev. Jonathan Gaspar Shares Thoughts on Pope From Rome
Rev. Jonathan Gaspar shares his thoughts on a new pope, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.
Rev. Jonathan Gaspar is a North Reading High School graduate and Priest Secretary to Cardinal Seán O'Malley. Gaspar has been in Rome since Tuesday and will stay until a new pope is elected to replace Pope Benedict.
Gaspar had never imagined being so close to the election of a new pope, he said. It is exciting to be in Rome, and to witness the excitement of others, he told Patch.
"My experience here in Rome these past few days has been a tremendous blessing. I never thought that as a priest I would be able to witness up close the election of a new pope," Gaspar said. "I currently serve as Cardinal Seán O'Malley's priest secretary, so I've been able to experience the Church from a very broad perspective, interacting with Catholics throughout the world and getting to know some of the leaders in the Catholic community."
He spoke highly of Cardinal O'Malley, saying that O'Malley has taught him "what it is to be a priest." He referred to O'Malley as humble and holy and said that he respects the heroic work O'Malley does for the church in Boston and beyond.
Gaspar was able to meet both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Both were "different men with different gifts," he said, but they served the church well.
"When people asked me back in 2005, when Pope John Paul II died, who I thought should be the next pope, I said it needed to be someone exactly like Pope John Paul, because I loved him so much. He became like a spiritual father to me," he said.
When asked what he hopes for in a pope now, Gaspar said, "part of me wants to say that I want someone just like Pope Benedict."
He appreciates Benedict's style and gifts, but he realizes that the new pope may not be like Benedict.
"Whoever it is, I know it will take some time for us Catholics to get used to him. I pray, however, that he will follow the example of his predecessors, or at least the two popes that I got to know in my lifetime," Gaspar said. "I want him to be a man of prayer, in love with Christ and completely selfless in his service to the Church. I want him to be courageous in teaching the Gospel and in challenging us to re-examine our lives in the light of the Church's teachings."
He also noted that he would like the new pope to be "a man who loves the tradition of the church, who is devoted to the Liturgy and who celebrates the Eucharist with love and humility."
Ultimately, the pope should make catholics stronger in their faith in Jesus Christ, he said.
"I want him to do this by his own example of living his faith in joy, and communicating that faith to me in ways that both challenge me to grow, and also comfort me when I need strength to believe," he said.
Pope Benedict's resignation was a sign of humility and trust, Gaspar said, and Benedict will spend his last years continuing to "entrust his life to God in prayer and solitude."
"For us as Catholics, the pope isn't just the Bishop of Rome, but he's more like a father. He's called to love the entire Church and to teach us what it means to be fully human and made in God's image," Gaspar said.
He went on to say, "As I witness these historic days in the heart of the church, built on the tomb of the great Apostle Peter, I want everyone in North Reading to know that I'm praying for them, especially those who are away from the church. In these days we're reminded that the church is alive, it's relevant and has a lot to offer to humanity. I'm grateful to God for this experience, I'm excited to see our new pope in St Peter's square, and I will hold everyone in my heart, grateful for all those who taught me the ancient faith of the church, which is always new, always fresh and exciting."
According to WHDH.com, O'Malley led a mass in Rome Sunday. Here is a video of firefighters installing a new chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel and a clip of O'Malley leading mass. You will see Gaspar next to O'Malley when he is getting out of his car and during the Eucharist.