That was a theme picked up later by the Jesuits, who were born in the Counter-Reformation and went on to become the largest and most powerful order in the Catholic Church, evangelizing the New World and running universities but also becoming the champions of the poor in Latin America and elsewhere.
The Jesuits spoke truth to power, frequently running afoul of various regimes — and even sacrificing their lives — but also drawing the ire of church authorities in Rome who often saw them as too prophetic and insufficiently obedient.
Yet it was that willingness to live out the beliefs of the Gospels that also won people’s hearts more than words did, and there were signs that the cardinals meeting here in the last two weeks recognized the power of that witness as well.
“This mission of mercy has been entrusted by Christ to the pastors of his Church,” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dead of the College of Cardinals, said on Tuesday at a Mass sending the electors into the conclave. “It is a mission that must be embraced by every priest and bishop, but is especially entrusted to the Bishop of Rome” — the pope.