Politics

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis

White smoke rose from the Vatican on Wednesday as the conclave chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new Pope, reaching their decision on the fifth ballot.  He has chosen the papal name Francis.  A massive crowd at the Vatican cheered his first official appearance on the balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica.  CNN reports on his first address to the faithful:

“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am.

“I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to … the bishops, thank you very much.

“First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus pope, Benedict XVI. Let us pray all of us together … so that he’s blessed by the lord and guarded.”

Pope Francis then said the Lord’s Prayer.

Pope Francis is 76 years old, the first Pope from the Americas, and the first Jesuit Pope.  The Associated Press provides a bit of background:

Known until Wednesday as Jorge Bergoglio, the 76-year-old is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed. He came close to becoming pope last time, reportedly gaining the second-highest vote total in several rounds of voting before he bowed out of the running in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

[...] Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina’s capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.

“Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit,” Bergoglio told Argentina’s priests last year.

Bergoglio’s legacy as cardinal includes his efforts to repair the reputation of a church that lost many followers by failing to openly challenge Argentina’s murderous 1976-83 dictatorship. He also worked to recover the church’s traditional political influence in society, but his outspoken criticism of President Cristina Kirchner couldn’t stop her from imposing socially liberal measures that are anathema to the church, from gay marriage and adoption to free contraceptives for all.

If he tells Argentina to back off the Falkland Islands, will the government listen to him?

Update: LifeNews supplies some thoughts from the new Pope on the subject of abortion:

In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty.  A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”

The remarks came during the presentation of a document called the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America.

In the document, the new Pope referred to abortion and communion, saying “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.  This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

Archbishop Bergoglio said then that “the most mentioned word in the Aparecida Document is ‘life’, because the Church is very conscious of the fact that the cheapest thing in Latin America, the thing with the lowest price, is life.”

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