By: Catholic News Service
On March 13, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected by his
fellow cardinals as the 266th pope.
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The first Jesuit pope, he has taken the name Francis (also
a first) after the
universally beloved St. Francis of Assisi.
Known as a man of simplicity, humility, and care for the poor, he brings to the papacy a
renewed emphasis on Gospel living.
By Carol Zimmerman and Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—The tens of thousands of rain-drenched pilgrims who filled St. Peter’s Square March 13
joyously cheered the new leader of the Church, Pope Francis.
Cheers of “Francesco! Francesco! Francesco!” resounded throughout the square as the pope greeted the exuberant
crowd in Italian and blessed them from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
When the name of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was announced, the crowd was momentarily quiet and visibly puzzled, but they clapped and cheered when they heard the name Francis, even if they did not yet know much about the new pontiff.
“The choice of the name was beautiful for us. St. Francis is the patron saint of Italy,” said Celsa Negrini of Rome. “It was a beautiful evening. We’re so happy to have an Argentine pope and it was about time we had someone from Latin America.”
“He seems very humble; his demeanor seems very positive. He will be a pope who evangelizes people’s consciences,” she added.
The crowd already had waited for hours hoping to see white smoke pouring from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. When it finally appeared, shouts and cheers erupted from the crowd as people rushed to get closer to the front of St. Peter’s Basilica to catch a glimpse of the new pope.
Pope Francis has a reputation as a spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership. In Buenos Aires, he rode the bus, visited the poor, lived in a simple apartment, and cooked his own meals. To many, he was known simply as “Father Jorge.”
His homilies and speeches emphasize that all people are brothers and sisters. He has expressed a desire that the Church make everyone feel welcome, respected, and cared for.
While largely steering clear of commenting directly on Argentina’s sometimes-troubled political establishment, Pope Francis has not tried to hide the social aspect of the Gospel message, particularly important in a country still recovering from economic crisis.
"We Have a Pope"
By Francis X. Rocca and Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—On the second day of the conclave, on the fifth ballot came a surprisingly quick conclusion to an election that began with many plausible candidates and no clear favorite.
White smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:05 p.m., March 13, signaling the cardinals had chosen a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Two minutes later, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began ringing continuously to confirm the election.
At 8:12, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran appeared at the basilica balcony and made the formal announcement in Latin. “I announce to you a great joy: We have a pope! The most eminent and most reverend lord, Lord Jorge Mario, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Bergoglio, who has taken for himself the name Francis.”
What's in a Name?
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By Diane M. Houdek
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first pope in history to come from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in more than a thousand years.
Upon his election he chose the name Francis. In a talk to journalists on March 16, the new pope explained: “That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.... He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man.… How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!”
One of the most celebrated stories
of St. Francis is that of his conversion in the tiny, tumble-down church of San Damiano outside the gates of Assisi. Francis’s calling crystallized when he was praying in the ruined chapel and heard a voice from the crucifix saying, “Go, rebuild my church, which, as you can see,
is falling into ruin.”
Francis began repairing the physical chapel itself; later he recognized that his calling was to help rebuild the universal Church. By calling his followers to a radical embrace of the Gospel, he renewed spiritual life in the Middle Ages.
The pope’s choice of name is particularly appropriate as there is wide agreement that the Roman Catholic Church today is in need of some rebuilding. The pope faces many challenges from scandals within the Vatican and the wider Church to the Church’s struggle to remain relevant in an increasingly secular world.
In accepting the election by his peers, Pope Francis has demonstrated his willingness to embrace this sacred duty. In the spirit of St. Francis, he seems to be setting about it in his own simple, humble, and effective way.
Catholic News Service, through the auspices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, brings local, national, and international news of the Catholic Church to diocesan papers and countless other publications, including AmericanCatholic.org.
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