#PopeWatch2013 ends sooner than anticipated
The Vatican surprised Roman Catholics around the world with white smoke from the Sistine Chapel March 13th. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope at the end of only five ballots over two days. Most papal conclaves last between three and five days.
Bergoglio chose the name Francis I as the title he will be known by for the duration of his papacy. He is the first pope to take the name of the beloved St. Francis of Assisi, credited with literally rebuilding the Church during the Middle Ages and remembered for his extensive work with the poor and humble way of life.
At 76 years old, Pope Francis is by no means the young buck many Catholics had hoped for, and his age is likely one of the reasons why he was not listed as a serious contender by betting websites – despite reportedly being the runner up to Benedict XVI at the 2005 papal conclave.
Born in the Argentine capitol of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis has spent most of his time before now doing pastoral work in the country of his birth. He was ordained a priest in 1969, and is the first pope of non-European descent in more than 1200 years.
The National Catholic Reporter states he came to the defence of single mothers wishing to have their babies baptized in Sept. 2012.
“In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage.”
“These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to the sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!” said Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, to priests.
Monsignor Brian Henneberry was watching the live feed from the Vatican in a faculty lounge at St. Thomas University when Pope Francis made his first appearance on the balcony.
“The things that struck me the most, and the things that I liked was that first, he’s a little overweight. Second, he spoke with a comfortable, reasonable voice. He didn’t sound frail,” said Msgr. Henneberry.
“Another thing I noticed was that his episcopal ring wasn’t the gold you get for becoming a cardinal. It was simple silver. His pectoral cross was simple. It bespeaks a simplicity of lifestyle that even when he comes out on the balustrade of St. Peter, he came out dressed as he was when he went in.”
According to a profile of Cardinal Bergoglio written for the National Catholic Reporter last week, the new pontiff is known to have lived in a small apartment rather than the Bishop’s palace in Buenos Aires, cooked meals for himself, and taken public transit to work each day rather than having a chauffeur drive him around.
In his first address to the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis first thanked the people for their welcome to him, and then thanked the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, for his service to the church.
After praying the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be for Benedict XVI with the crowd, Pope Francis said:
“And now, let us start this journey, bishop and people, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which leads all the Churches in charity, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.”
“Let us always pray for us, one for the other, let us pray for the whole world, so that there may be a great fraternity. I hope that this journey of the Church that we begin today and which my cardinal vicar, who is here with me, will help me with, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.”
Pope Francis then asked the people gathered to pray God would bless him, and after a moment of silence for them to do so, he blessed the crowd and wished everyone a good night and a good rest.
Social media has been abuzz with posts about the new pope since it was announced. In Catholic circles, response has been overwhelmingly positive. People are thrilled to have a pope from Latin America, and that Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be made a pope.
The Jesuits are one of the largest orders of Roman Catholic priests and brothers. They do missionary work around the world. They are especially known for their work in education as they have founded and continue to run many schools and universities around the world. The Jesuits are also known for their dedication to ecumenical dialogue, something which will be especially welcomed in Pope Francis by people from other faiths.
“A Jesuit named Francis wearing the Dominican habit who wants to be close to the poor… definitely has possibilities” said Raymond Lafontaine.
With the number of posts about Pope Francis being made on facebook and twitter, it’s perhaps not surprising to see some backlash from non-Catholics and people hostile to the papacy.
“Remember when Canada won the Olympic gold over the USA in the 2010 winter Olympics? It’s kind of like that. Or when a British monarchist gets to see the baby who will one day be king or queen? It’s kind of like that.”
“It’s not that I’m asking you to be Catholic or agree with our beliefs, I’m just asking you to respect that this is an important occasion for many, many people the world over” said Sanders in a Facebook post.
Other pages on Facebook such as the popular “Catholic Memes” have had a field day with the election of Francis, resulting in nearly 13 thousand likes and more than 9 thousand shares of an image of Pope Francis shyly waving hello from the balcony.
Pope Francis will have an audience with all the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church tomorrow at 11am, and an audience with journalists and media covering the conclave at 11am on Saturday.
The mass during which Francis will officially be installed as pope will happen on Tuesday morning at 9:30am.