Cardinal DiNardo speaks about St. John Paul II, Pope Francis at 5th Annual Prayer Breakfast

August 19, 2014

HOUSTON — More than 1,000 people attended this year’s Prayer Breakfast and listened to keynote speaker Daniel Cardinal DiNardo July 18 at the Hilton of the Americas in downtown Houston.

In his keynote address, Cardinal DiNardo spoke about the papacies of two popes from the moment of their elections — St. John Paul II and Pope Francis — and their approach to leading the Catholic Church.

He said both popes have distinctive characteristics that were made evident by what they said during their inaugurations.

“He greeted the crowd... Pope John II, with the words, ‘Praised by Jesus Christ,’ a kind of greeting Polish people use all the time with one another,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “He then said something, which prior to that popes had not done in their inauguration. He said the following, ‘Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, we are all still saddened by the death of our beloved Pope John Paul I. And so the cardinals have called for a new Bishop of Rome. They have called him from a far away country — far away — and yet close because of our communion in the traditions of the Church. I was afraid to accept that responsibility and I do so in a spirit of obedience to the Lord and a total faithfulness to Mary, our most holy mother. I am speaking to you in your — no, our Italian language. If I make mistakes, please correct me.’ The crowd went wild.”

While those words from the pope on Oct. 16, 1978 were spontaneous, Cardinal DiNardo said that it set in motion what was to come the next 25 years of his papacy. Pope John Paul II, now a saint, recognized that his call to holiness was to pray and to reach out to people all over the world, making more than 100 trips as pope.

Cardinal DiNardo said that what St. John Paul II said at his inauguration, “was going to be a light motif for him about how he would exercise being Peter, holding the keys to the Church.”

The inauguration of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, was a different experience for Cardinal DiNardo. He experienced it fully, participating in his first Conclave to elect the new pope.

“‘And now we take up this journey — bishop and people — this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the churches,’” Cardinal DiNardo quoted Pope Francis. “‘A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.’”

Pope Francis, as he was closing during his first speech, asked the people of the Church to bless him and pray over him in silence before he gave the blessing.

“Pope Francis took seriously the two weeks of talks that the cardinals gave to one another, and it was obvious to him that the word ‘mission’ was the word to be used,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Since he has become pope, Francis has used ‘mission’ as his theme.”

The Prayer Breakfast, now in its fifth year, has grown each year since it began when local lay people became inspired by the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. and wanted to bring the concept to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Since then, a collaboration of lay faithful and Archdiocesan staff have organized and promoted the event.

Trey Snider chaired this year’s event and it was generously underwritten by Mrs. Raye White. Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz and retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto were in attendance as well as Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.