ST. GEORGE – The announcement of election of the Catholic Church’s 266th pope came today in Vatican City, with historic firsts: Cardinal and archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, who has chosen the name Pope Francis, the first to use that name, is the first pope elected from the Americas and the first Jesuit to serve as pope.
“I announce to you a great joy: We have a pope!,” said French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, “The most eminent and most reverend lord, Lord Jorge, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Bergoglio, who has taken for himself the name Francis.”
First offering a prayer for his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis addressed the sea of faces before him:
“And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.”
Francis asked the people for prayer, for the Lord’s blessing upon himself before the offering of the first blessing:
“I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.”
The papal election came today on the first full day of the conclave – the assembly of the college of the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel for the election of the pope – on the conclave’s fifth ballot. According to the Catholic News Service, Bergoglio received at least two-thirds votes of the 115 cardinals from 48 countries. The pope is elected by majority vote.
To have a Latin American pope is new and exciting for a near majority of Catholics worldwide.
“I’m actually pretty excited because I’m hispanic,” St. George Catholic Church’s church secretary, Sandra Tellez, said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any difference, I just think it’s a privilege to have a pope that’s from the same type of culture as you are. To me all the popes have been wonderful popes.”
As archbishop of Buenes Aires, the new Pope is reportedly reknown for his pastoral leadership among people who call him “Father Jorge,” living simply in his own apartment rather than the cardinal’s palace, cooking his own food, riding the bus.
Among considerable media commentary the new pope is reported to be theologically conservative and a moderate, an adherent to Christ’s teaching and not given to altering that himself.
In Argentina, Bergoglio has taken a stand on socio-political issues. The Catholic News reported Bergoglio protested Argentina’s 2010 legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, and it 2006 proposal to legalize abortion.
“While not overtly political,” the Catholic News reported, “Cardinal Bergoglio has not tried to hide the political and social impact of the Gospel message, particularly in a country still recovering from a serious economic crisis.”
Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his forthcoming resignation in February for health reasons.
St. George News assistant editor Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
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