Archive of March 14, 2013

Knights of Columbus voice gratitude for Pope Francis

New Haven, Conn., Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Prayers and best wishes are being sent from the Knights of Columbus to Pope Francis upon his election today, March 13.

“The election of Pope Francis – the first pope from the American hemisphere – highlights the fact that America is the continent of baptized Christians, and a place of central importance to the faith today,” the fraternal organization, with over 1 million members worldwide, stated.

“Pope Francis is well known also for his emphasis on charity – the first principle of the Knights of Columbus.”

The Knights plan to work together with Pope Francis throughout his pontificate to further the mission of the Church.

“Both in our efforts for evangelization and in our charitable work, we will strive with him to bring the light of Christ to the people of our continent during his historic pontificate.”

“Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the 1.8 million members of the Knights of Columbus extend cordial best wishes and prayers to our newly elected pope.”

Pope Francis, who was previously known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on the fifth ballot, and was Archbishop of Buenos Aires prior to his election as Bishop of Rome. He is a member of the Society of Jesus, and is the first Pope to have been elected from that order, as well as the first Latin American Pope.

He greeted the crowds of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square shortly after 8:00 p.m., after spending time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Pauline Chapel.

Pope Francis will be inaugurated on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square.

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Jesuit charism is to serve the Church, priest notes

Denver, Colo., Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Jesuit priest expressed delight at the election of Pope Francis, who is a member of the Society of Jesus, highlighting that the group was founded to serve Christ's Church.

“The whole Jesuit charism is to be at the service of the hierarchical Church,” Father Raymond Gawronski, a priest of the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus, told CNA March 13.

“We are at the service of the Church; wherever God wants to place us to serve the Church, apparently including the Papacy, that's where we're supposed to go,” he added.

“It seems to be God's will that at this point the Jesuit charism come to the center of the Church, in a beautiful way.”

The priest expressed emotion as he called election to the papacy one of the greatest honors “a human being can have, and that it can come to a Jesuit is tremendous. I have to say, I am delighted.”

Pope Francis, he noted, is “obviously a good man, a faithful man,” who is “highly thought of.”

“I gather he has a great love for the poor, and in a world of great social injustice – and Latin America has known much social injustice – a voice for the poor is extremely important.”

Fr. Gawronski has taught at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is the author of “Word and Silence,” and has written articles appearing in “Communio,” “New Oxford Review,” and other publications.

The new Pope, he emphasized, will be a “faithful voice who would take the legitimate concerns of liberation theology, but keep them in the heart of the Church. So I think that's a beautiful thing.”

Fr. Gawronski expressed an initial surprise at the election, “because we've always been at the service of the Church, but distinct from the hierarchical Church; Jesuits don't generally become bishops or cardinals, and certainly not Popes.”

Reflecting on the fact that Jesuits are not to seek ecclesiastical honors or power within the Church, Father said that while this is a “profound honor,” the election also means that Pope Francis has had to “sacrifice the freedom of being a religious, to serve the Church.”

The priest also discussed Jorge Mario Bergoglio's choice of name, taken in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

“It's beautiful that he chose the name Francis. St. Ignatius was a great lover of St. Francis, and he wanted to be like Francis.”

He noted that both St. Francis and St. Dominic were “great heroes” to the Society's founder, and there is a “nice twinning in his name.”

“He comes from the new world, and Franciscan missionaries were so important to the new world, as were the Jesuits in the new world.”

“Taking the name of Francis is a beautiful thing, and it speaks to a desire to rebuild Christ's Church, to continue building it,” said Father.

Pope Francis was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. White smoke wafted from the Sistine Chapel at 7:06 in the evening in Rome, announcing his election.

He greeted the crowds of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square an hour later, after spending time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Pauline Chapel.

He was elected during the fifth ballot of the conclave, on its second day.

Fr. Gawronski said that “I think as a Jesuit I'm very, very profoundly honored. St. Ignatius always called us the 'least society of Jesus' – the least society.”

He noted that St. Ignatius began the Society with “a handful of men at the service of the Church, and he went to Rome to place all of our gifts at the service of the vicar of Christ.”

“And it is the vicar of Christ this man has become on earth, and our job is to serve that. So, if this is how God wants us to serve, well everything about us is to serve.”

“En todo, amar y servir,” Fr. Gawronski quoted St. Ignatius' motto. “In all things, to love and to serve.”

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Descendant of founding American files 50th mandate lawsuit

Washington D.C., Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Baptist small business owner whose ancestors fought religious persecution as founding Americans has filed the 50th lawsuit challenging the federal contraception mandate.

The Thomas More Law Center, which is handling the case, said that Thomas Beckwith’s ancestors endured “the hardships of a storm tossed ocean voyage,” coming the America “in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England.”

“One hundred and fifty years later, one of his ancestors, as a member of the Connecticut militia, fought against the tyrannical British king in the Revolutionary War,” the organization continued.

Now, it said, Beckwith and his family-owned electric company are filing a legal challenge to a federal mandate that constitutes “a new form of tyranny and religious persecution.”

Beckwith is the owner of Beckwith Electric, founded as a family business in 1967. The company, which has 168 full-time employees, produces micro-processor-based technology for power system generators, powers lines and transformers. The company also offers energy saving and voltage reduction strategies.

Beckwith has now filed the 50th religious freedom lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s contraception mandate. Issued under the authority of the Affordable Care Act, the mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

A Southern Baptist, Beckwith believes that life begins at conception, and his religious convictions prevent him from offering or in any way participating in the provision of abortion or emergency contraception, which can end the life of a newly-conceived human embryo.

If Beckwith does not comply with the mandate, he could face over $6 million in fines per year.

The Southern Baptist Convention strongly opposes the federal requirement, saying that it is “a blatant assault on faith.” The convention’s declaration against the mandate adds that “the Bible is clear about the sanctity of human life,” which is threatened by some of the mandated drugs that can cause early abortions.

According to the Thomas More Law Center, Beckwith lives his faith in both his personal life and his work, striving to “lead the company under God’s direction and by God’s principles,” and offering a full range of generous employee benefits including health, dental, vision and life insurance, profit sharing, educational and travel assistance, paid time off and gym memberships.

The company also provides spiritual support for employees facing the death of a loved one, family problems or other crises. According to the Thomas More Law Center, chaplains are a visible figure within Beckwith’s company, visiting the organization “on a weekly basis to build caring relationships with the employees.”

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said that through the mandate, the government has “declared war on people of Faith.” 
“This is a case about religious freedom,” said the lawsuit, which was filed March 12 in a federal court in Florida.

It quoted the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, founding father and author of the Declaration of Independence, who said, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”

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Pope spends half hour asking Mary for protection

Rome, Italy, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis made a private visit to Saint Mary Major Basilica this morning and prayed for half an hour at the Altar of the Virgin Mary.

In keeping with his humble demeanor, Pope Francis entered the basilica at around 8:00 a.m. through a side door, accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Father Leonardo Sapienza, the top two officials from the Papal Household.

The night before, when he was introduced to the hundreds of the thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that he was going to “go pray to the Madonna so that she may protect Rome.”

Corrected at 1:50 p.m. Rome time. Removes comments of Cardinal Dolan about visit to Benedict XVI after Vatican press office clarified Pope Francis has not yet gone to Castel Gandolfo.

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Pope Francis to cardinals: 'I hope God forgives you'

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The newly elected Pope Francis joked with cardinals over dinner telling them he hopes God forgives them for having chosen him.

“When the Secretary of State toasted to him, he toasted back to us and said ‘I hope God forgives you,’” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan recalled at the Pontifical North American College last night.

“He has already won our hearts, and we had a very fraternal meal at the Domus Santa Marta where we have been staying,” said the cardinal during a March 13 press conference at 11:00 p.m.

“Pope Francis also told us last night, “I’m going to sleep well and something tells me you will, too. And we will, knowing that the Church is in good hands,” said the New York cardinal, who described last night’s decision as bringing a “sense of release and of serenity.”

The Argentinian Pope, former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, used only public transportation, unlike many cardinals, to move around the city of Buenos Aires where he was living until now.

Cardinal Dolan told how Pope Francis used the last of the cardinals’ minibuses to return to the St. Martha house, instead of using the papal car with the license plate “Stato Vaticano 1.”

And last night he didn’t go up on the platform to sit on the papal chair, but instead stayed down and greeted each cardinal.

“It’s clear he already takes very seriously his role as the Bishop of Rome, since Pope Francis said he would venerate Our Lady, Help of the Roman People today,” said Cardinal Dolan.

“It was a very beautiful, inspirational and moving evening and it’s something I’ll never forget,” he added.

After Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re announced the Pope’s name to the cardinals last night, Pope Francis accepted. The Jesuit Pope told the cardinals he chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, not in honor of the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier.

Cardinal Battista Re then read the Bible passage where Jesus chooses Saint Peter and says ‘to you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you untie on earth will be untied in heaven.’

The cardinals sang the Te Deum and the new Pope spent a few minutes in adoration, a new tradition which has begun with him.

Cardinal Dolan told journalists that elderly cardinals had said to him, “once you get in there you will feel the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit and you’ll feel God’s grace very much at work.”

“Not that there was thunder, but you feel a very beautiful sense of resignation and direction as you see things unfolding,” said the cardinal.

He noted that “although you could see God’s hands at work, that didn’t absolve us from our responsibility.”

Cardinal Dolan also described seeing the relationship with a fellow cardinal suddenly change because of his new identity as “an astounding moment.”

“All of a sudden his clothes are different, his name is different and our relationship with him is different.”

He said that the morning of the Pope’s election, he was hugging the Argentinian cardinal.

“As sincere, as simple and as humble as he so radiantly is, his identity is new, and that I found extraordinarily moving,” he said.

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Pope Francis' personality begins to change routines

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the first press briefing of Pope Francis' pontificate, a more detailed picture of the new Church’s leader and some things he will do differently began to emerge.

“The spontaneity that we saw at work last night and then again this morning indicates a new style of doing things,” said Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language assistant for the Vatican press office, at a March 14 media gathering.

The first sign of the change was that Pope Francis individually received the congratulations of his fellow cardinals standing, instead of sitting in the papal throne.

But his simplicity was also apparent when he later appeared before the people in his papal attire.

Although he could have worn the gold pectoral cross usually worn by pontiffs, he chose to keep the cross from his time as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. As far as his papal vestments go, he wore a simple white cassock without the red, ermine-trimmed cape known as the mozzetta.

Fr. Lombardi said that Pope Francis chose his name after St. Francis of Assisi, which also invokes the simplicity and image of that saint.

The simplicity of his message to the city and world – called the Urbi et Orbi address – also stood out for beginning with the commonplace greeting of “good evening,” its emphasis on his role as Bishop of Rome, and his request for the prayers of the people before he gave his blessing.

After he left the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis had an elegant car with the license plate “Stato Vaticano 1” waiting for him, but he declined it in favor of riding the last minibus back to Casa Santa Marta with his fellow bishops and cardinals.

Early on March 14 at around 8:00 a.m, Pope Francis arrived at Saint Mary Major Basilica to place his pontificate and the city of Rome under the protection of Mary.

He took a regular Vatican car with Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Father Leonardo Sapienza, according to Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi.

When he was asked if the Vatican’s security forces were disturbed by the Pope spontaneously making unofficial trips, Fr. Lombardi replied, “the security forces are at the service of the Pope, not the other way around.”

Fr. Rosica added, “we’re going to get used to a new way of doing things. Remember John Paul II, how many rules he broke, in terms of going where he wished to go and doing things in his own way and his own style.”

Pope Francis will be installed as Supreme Pontiff on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square.

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Argentine president, bishops congratulate Pope Francis

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Within hours of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires being elected as Pope Francis, political and religious leaders from his home country sent their prayers and warm wishes to the new Holy Father.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sent a message of congratulations via Twitter to the new Pope, saying, “As he assumes the leadership and direction of the Church, we wish him a fruitful pastoral mission in carrying out such great responsibilities in search of justice, equality, fraternity and peace for humanity.”

Pope Francis was elected by the College of Cardinals on March 13, the second day of the conclave. He is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be elected to the papacy.

The president of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, also congratulated Pope Francis in a letter sent on behalf of his brother bishops.
“Dear Jorge: Our joy springs from the faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of history, for your acceptance to serve the Church as the successor of Peter. I entrust your ministry to the protection Our Lady of Lujan,” Archbishop Arancedo said in the message.

He assured the new Holy Father of the bishops’ “closeness and prayers.”

“I think it would be appropriate that this Sunday in all Masses in our dioceses, our special intention be one of thanksgiving and prayer for the ministry that the Church has entrusted to our brother Jorge,” the archbishop said.

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Without Christ crucified, Church a 'pitiful' organization, Pope says

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The day after he was elected, Pope Francis emphasized that every believer – including bishops, cardinals and Popes – must proclaim Jesus crucified to be true Christians.

“We can build so many things but if we don’t confess Jesus Christ, then something is wrong. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, spouse of Christ,” Pope Francis said in his March 14 homily.

“He who doesn't pray to God prays to the Devil,” the Pope added in an apparent quote.

Pope Francis made his remarks at the Mass to close the conclave on Thursday evening in the Sistine Chapel with all of the cardinal electors present.

He asserted that the common theme to all three of today’s Scripture readings “is movement: the first reading, the movement of walking; the second reading, the movement of building; and the third, the Gospel, is in confession. To walk, to build, to confess.”

“But, it's not such an easy thing,” he noted.

“In walking, in building, in confession, sometimes there are shocks, there are movements, moments that are not proper to our journey. They are movements that drag us backwards.”
Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to the Gospel reading from Matthew in which Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ.

“This is the same Peter who confesses to Christ, who says ‘you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. I will follow you, but let's not speak of crosses! This has nothing to do with it. I will follow you with other possibilities, without the Cross,’” he said, characterizing Peter’s reaction.

“And, if we walk without the Cross, how much do we build without the Cross? And, when we confess Christ without the Cross, then we are not disciples of the Lord.”

The Pope then applied his words to himself and his brother cardinals, saying, “We might be bishops, priests, cardinals and Popes, but we are not disciples of the Lord” if we leave the Cross behind.

“I would like all of us, after these days of grace, to have the courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the cross of the Lord, to edify the Church in the blood of the Lord poured out on the cross and to confess the only glory, that of Christ crucified. And, in this way, the Church will move forward,” he said as he finished his homily.

Pope Francis’ next event will be a congratulatory meeting with all of the cardinals, both those who are retired and those who are still active, at 1:00 p.m. in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

On Saturday morning, he will hold an audience with journalists and media personnel in the Paul VI Hall, as his predecessors did.

Pope Francis will pray the Angelus and make remarks from the window of his apartment at noon on Sunday.

He will be installed as Pope on March 19 at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square.

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Youthful Denver rally cheers on Pope Francis

Denver, Colo., Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - After the election of Pope Francis, a crowd of enthusiastic young Catholics gathered in Denver Wednesday afternoon to show their support with prayers and lively chants.

“We have a Pope...his name is Francis,” chanted the crowd of around 100 people.

“He rides the bus ... he's one of us,” they said, referring to Pope Francis' reputation for taking public transportation as a cardinal.

The songs and shouts mixed English-and Spanish-language chants with the Italian phrase “Viva il Papa” – “Long live the Pope.”

Amid the boisterous joy, rally attendees also prayed solemn prayers for Pope Francis and the success of his papacy.

The event took place March 13 on Lincoln Boulevard, a busy street west of the Colorado capitol. It was part of the Rally for the Pope, a Denver-based initiative with counterparts in several other cities around the U.S. and the world.

Some carried banners and wore t-shirts that said “Habemus Papam” – Latin for “we have a Pope.” Other signs said “Denver loves Pope Francis.” A few people waved with vigor the yellow and white flags of the Holy See.

One of the most energetic rally leaders was Brigid DeMoor, who led the crowd in cheers when she wasn’t busy looking after her six-month-old son Joseph.

“The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is my Catholic faith. And today we received our new leader, the new vicar of Christ Pope Francis,” DeMoor told CNA.

“I’m so grateful to have a fearless leader who is a man of integrity rooted in truth, who will lead us with a humble heart in the next new millennium.”

DeMoor’s husband Seth launched the website and a special Twitter hashtag #rallyforthePope to help coordinate the celebrations for the papal election. Seth was on a plane when Pope Francis emerged from the balcony and couldn't attend the rally.

The crowd included young families, young adults, three Dominican sisters and several consecrated laywomen of the Marian Community of Reconciliation.

John O'Brien, a pastoral associate at the south Denver parish Our Lady of Lourdes, hosted the event.

“It’s just a great celebration,” O’Brien said, praising the turnout as “awesome.”

“The reason why we’re gathered here is to show that there’s a whole generation of youth that we’re representing that is very excited that Pope Francis has been elected and that we stand with him,” he said.

“We’re celebrating his election. We’re standing with him and the teachings of the Church.”

Some drivers of passing cars agreed and honked their horns in support.

Tess Stone, an events coordinator for the Archdiocese of Denver, held a sign that read “Pope Francis, we love you!”

She said she attended the rally out of excitement for the new Pope and out of a desire “to show my love and support and unity for the whole Church.”

“He’s a new shepherd and the leader of the Church and so we look to him for guidance and pray for him,” Stone told CNA. “I can’t wait to get to know him better and give him my full support.”

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver also gave his support to the rally. J.D. Flynn, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver, used a bullhorn to read the crowd a special message from the archbishop.

“Praise God for the great gift of His Holiness Pope Francis. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for your witness,” Archbishop Aquila’s message said.

“Dear sons and daughters, Pope Francis is called to greatness. So are you,” he continued. “Join me in the call of Pope Francis for the New Evangelization. Join me in becoming the saints of the new Millennium. I am proud of you.”

Flynn also led the crowd in prayers. After 40 minutes of rallying, the group formed a long procession to the nearby Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

They walked the three blocks with their flags and banners, causing smiles and curious glances among passersby.

Cathedral rector Monsignor Thomas Fryar celebrated an evening Mass for the rally participants and for all Catholics who wanted to give thanks for the papal election.

He apologized for the absence of Archbishop Aquila, who had hoped to celebrate the thanksgiving Mass after the rally.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody was expecting a Pope this fast,” Msgr. Fryar said in his homily, which reflected on the papal election.

“For 2,000 years the successor of St. Peter served as the rock, the visible source of the foundation of unity in the life of the Church,” he told the congregation.

“Today Pope Francis has taken up the keys to the kingdom. His leadership, his values, and his friendship with Jesus Christ will guide the rest of the disciples for years to come.”

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Mass for Chavez in Rome described as act of Christian love

Rome, Italy, Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Venezuelan priest who concelebrated a Mass in Rome for the repose of the soul of President Hugo Chavez said the Mass was a gesture of love for God and forgiveness in Christ.
“Although there were differences between the government and the Church in Venezuela, the cardinal is showing that Jesus Christ is Father to all,” Father Ramon Fajardo told CNA.

“The Church loves, forgives and embraces everyone,” he said.

Fr. Fajardo, a parish priest on an island off the coast of Rome, concelebrated a March 8 Mass with Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas, Venezuela. The Mass took place at Santa Maria dei Monti, Cardinal Urosa’s titular church.

During the Mass, Cardinal Urosa, who was in Rome to participate in the conclave that elected Pope Francis, commended the soul of President Chavez to God and prayed for peace and unity for the Venezuelan people.

“At this moment let us reaffirm our faith in the risen Jesus Christ, and let us pray with trust in God who is immensely merciful, for the eternal repose of the soul of President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias,” Cardinal Urosa said during his homily.

He encouraged prayers for the Venezuelan president, who died March 5, as well as for fraternal peace in the country.

Voicing condolences to the late president’s family and friends, the cardinal invited those present “to pray that the Lord will grant him eternal rest and will lead him to the joys of eternal glory.”

Cardinal Urosa pointed to various moments of difficulty in which the bishops directly aided Chavez, including his 1992 imprisonment and his brief ousting in a 2002 coup attempt, when various Venezuelan bishops reached out to him to offer aid and protection.

After reading a passage from the Gospel of St. John, the cardinal stressed that death is “a consequence of original sin” and “an integral part of human existence.”

“Christ came into the world precisely to overcome not only evil, sin and the devil, but also death,” he explained.

Through his sacrifice on the Cross, the cardinal said, Christ was able to “destroy the heavy burden that distressed humanity and…turn death into the step towards joyful eternity.”

“Although death is sad, although death causes us pain, it is not something that is definitive,” he said. “We have an immortal soul and we are called to live forever. We are called to gloriously rise at the end of history.”

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Pope Francis seen as humble man who can unite, rebuild Church

Washington D.C., Mar 14, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - American Catholic scholars and commentators praised Pope Francis as a spiritual leader for our times, with the ability to unify and renew the Catholic Church.

“As a man who can both preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and confidently, yet exhibit humility, he looks like he’s got the design for the time and situation that we’re in,” said Catholic intellectual Robert P. George, who is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

On March 13, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected as Pope, taking the name Francis. He is both the first Jesuit Pope and the first Latin American Pope.

George told CNA that the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope is “not completely surprising.”

The new Pope is one of the “leading Latin-American Cardinals,” a strong candidate in the 2005 conclave and “highly respected in the Church,” he explained.

The professor also commented that the new Pope is “a man of simplicity and humility,” taking public transportation while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and living in a modest apartment where he cooked for himself.

George noted the new Pope’s adamant teachings on caring for the poor and observed that the Pontiff is “a strong critic of homosexual conduct and same-sex marriage,” while maintaining what he described as a humble and charitable approach. 

The professor recounted the story of the Holy Father as an archbishop visiting an AIDS hospice on Holy Thursday in order “to wash and kiss the feet of twelve AIDS patients.” These actions, he said, symbolize “that the Church does not condemn the person, but affirms and loves,” even as it rejects sin.

George also commented on the Pope’s outreach to Eastern Churches, a trait that he said few people have noticed. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis served as Ordinary of Eastern-rite Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own ordinary.

“Relations with those Churches, especially in the Middle East, is very important, especially in a time when Christianity is beginning to disappear from the Middle East because of political problems,” George stressed.

He added that it is “very important for the Church to have a continuing Christian presence in the Holy Land” and for the new Pope to understand the problems faced by Eastern-rite Churches and how to support Christians in that region.

“This is a pope that you cannot put in a box,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association. “This is a Jesuit who is now named Francis who is also associated with Communion and Liberation. I certainly cannot put him in any ideological box.”

“Through his example and through his teachings, he is going to lead the Church so beautifully in the New Evangelization,” she remarked.

Ferguson also discussed the “global perspective” the Pope brings by merging his Argentine roots with a familiarity of Europe and the global focus of the Jesuit order.

In addition, the Pope defies clear categories and “will do a good job of uniting the Church,” she said, pointing to the new Pontiff’s diverse background, humble life and staunch orthodoxy, as well as his scholarly work and familiarity with the Curia.

Pope Francis shows us that there is not a “divide between liberal Catholic issues and conservative Catholic issues,” Ferguson stressed. Rather, he teaches us that there should be a “unity of the whole - that we defend the voiceless whether that’s the poor immigrant or the unborn.”

“The fact that the conclave came to consensus so quickly when there was thought to be no front-runner,” she continued, “indicates that he will really unite the Church.”

Echoing these sentiments was Kim Daniels, director of Catholic Voices USA, a group of lay faithful seeking to defend Catholic teaching in public life.

Daniels told CNA that Pope Francis’ election “shows that the Catholic Church doesn't fit into familiar left/right categories.”

She added that “Cardinal Bergoglio brings so much to the papacy,” as a man “of great personal holiness and humility who leads a life of simplicity.”

“At the same time he's an intellectual, a pastor, and something of an outsider at the Vatican,” she explained.

“Most of all his choice demonstrates that the Church serves the voiceless and the vulnerable wherever we find them: he's deeply committed to the unborn as well as for the poor.”

The faithful can be sure that Pope Francis will strive to follow St. Francis of Assisi in responding to God’s call to “rebuild my Church,” Daniels said.

Even from his initial address to the faithful from the balcony of St. Peter’s, she said, “we know that he seeks to unite Catholics and to evangelize the world, especially in cultures that have grown indifferent to the faith.”

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