Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, closes the doors of the Sistine Chapel, saying  “extra omnes” (Latin: “Everyone out”) on March 12.

Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, closes the doors of the Sistine Chapel, saying
“extra omnes” (Latin: “Everyone out”) on March 12.

The College of Cardinals, including both voters and non-voters, began meetings chaired by Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano in the Synod Hall and sent a message to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, thanking him for his “tireless work” and example of “generous pastoral concern.”

After praying for the presence of the Holy Spirit, the cardinals and those assisting them at the meetings took an oath of secrecy.

Only two cardinals — Indonesian Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, the 78-year-old retired archbishop of Jakarta, and Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, 74, who retired as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after being accused of sexual misconduct — formally informed the Vatican that they will not attend the conclave.

Every three days three cardinals, from the Orders of Cardinals (Order of Bishops, Order of Priests and Order of Deacons) were chosen by lot to work in the Particular Congregation.

Many cardinals made addresses during the General Congregations. The subjects were broad and varied, and included the activity of the Holy See and its various dicasteries, their relationships with the bishops, the renewal of the Church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, the situation of the Church, and the need for new evangelization in the world, including in different cultural situations.

Other topics included interreligious dialogue, bioethics, the Church’s role in promoting justice, collegiality in the Church, and the need for the Church’s evangelizers to proclaim God’s love and mercy, the role of women in the Church, and a profile of the future Pope.

The beginning date of the conclave — Tuesday, March 12 — was set by the cardinals by overwhelming majority vote on March 8.

In their last meeting before the conclave, the world’s cardinals heard a report on the Vatican bank and continuing efforts to comply with international standards to prevent money laundering and the funding of terrorism.

Wednesday 13


Pope Francis leads a prayer as he appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on March 13 (CNS photos)

Pope Francis leads a prayer as he appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13 (CNS photos)

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected the 266th Pope and took the name Francis.

He is the first Pope in history to come from the Western Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in almost 1,300 years. The Jesuit was also the first member of his order to be elected Pope.

The election came on the second day of the conclave, on the conclave’s fifth ballot.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal in the order of deacons, appeared on the basilica’s balcony and read out 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.”

“Now I would like to give my blessing. But first, I will ask a favor. Before the bishop blesses his people, he asks that you pray to the Lord to bless me, the prayer of the people for the blessing of their bishop. Let’s pray for me in silence,” the new Pope said.

He also sought prayers for Pope Benedict.

Thursday 14

FIRST DAY of the new pontiff

Pope Francis began his first day as Pope with an early morning act of Marian devotion and by paying his bill at the clergy hotel where he had stayed before entering the conclave that elected him.

In the Basilica of St. Mary Major he prayed before an icon of Mary and the Child Jesus beloved by the Romans, the Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People).

The Pope was joined by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome, and by Cardinal Santos Abril Castello, archpriest of the basilica.

Then Pope Francis, a Jesuit, went to the Sistine Chapel of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, which is where St. Ignatius of Loyola celebrated his first Mass in 1538.

The pontiff also stopped briefly at the tomb of St. Pius V, who was Pope from 1566 to 1572.


Pope Francis made this remark concelebrating Mass with 114 cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel.

In one of the first signs of change from the previous pontificate, the Pope celebrated Mass at a temporary altar that allowed him to face the rest of the congregation.

The Holy Father also delivered his homily standing at a lectern, not seated, as his predecessor usually did.

Sunday 17


At his first Angelus from his window in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis told an overflow crowd in St. Peter’s Square never to despair of God’s mercy to sinners.

Following the Angelus, the Pope offered a particular greeting to Romans and other Italians, noting that he had chosen for his papal name that of St. Francis of Assisi, which he said “reinforces my spiritual tie with this land, where — as you know — my family origins lie.”

Earlier that morning, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at the Church of St. Anne inside Vatican City, where his homily also treated the subject of divine mercy.

Tuesday 19

Pope Francis walks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the Vatican on March 20 (CNS photo).

Pope Francis walks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the Vatican on March 20 (CNS photo).


“To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope,” Pope Francis told between 150,000 and 200,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and the nearby streets for his inauguration Mass.

With representatives of other Christian churches and communities, delegations from 132 countries, and Jewish and Muslim leaders as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains present, Pope Francis preached the Gospel, but insisted that the values it espouses are essentially human, “involving everyone.”

The new Pope stood at a lectern to read his homily, sticking to the text he had prepared in advance.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran placed the pallium, which had been worn by Pope Benedict XVI, around the new Pope’s neck.

Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presented Pope Francis with the fisherman’s ring, a gold-

plated silver band featuring St. Peter holding keys.

Six cardinals, representing the entire College of Cardinals, publicly pledged obedience to the Pope.

After the Lord’s Prayer, the Holy Father exchanged a sign of peace with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and with Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Wednesday 20


“The Catholic Church knows the importance of promoting friendship and respect among men and women of different religious traditions,” the Pope said, repeating the entire phrase twice for emphasis during a meeting with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration.

The Catholic Church, he said, “is equally aware of the responsibility that all have for this world, for creation — which we must love and protect — and we can do much good for those who are poor, weak and suffering, to favor justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace.”

Before meeting the entire group, the Pope held private meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of Orthodox bishops and a frequent visitor during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy, and with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of ecumenical relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis sat in a simple chair, not a throne, as he met the delegates in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace. Sitting closest to him on one side was Patriarch Bartholomew and on the other was Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome.

Greeting the Christian delegates, Pope Francis said he wanted to continue Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening, “promoting a kind of pilgrimage toward that which is essential for every Christian: a personal and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Sunday 24


Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass as Pope, telling an overflow crowd in St. Peter’s Square that Christ’s death on the cross is a source of eternal consolation and joy.

“A Christian can never be sad. Never give way to discouragement,” the Pope said in his homily, assuring listeners that with Jesus “we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even at difficult moments when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them.”

Pope Francis confirmed that he would attend the July 2013 World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, saying, “I will see you in that great city in Brazil.”

Before the Mass, young people carrying woven palm fronds led a procession that included bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis in the popemobile. They processed to the ancient Egyptian obelisk in the center of the square, where the Pope blessed palm and olive branches held up by members of the congregation.

Tuesday 26


“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Fr. Lombardi said.

Pope Francis will continue to use the library for official audiences and to recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays and holy days from the apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

Wednesday 27


“There is such a great need to bring (people) the living presence of Jesus, who is merciful and rich in love,” the Pope said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope began very simply, saying in Italian: “Good morning. I’m happy to welcome you to my first general audience.”

Introducing the Triduum liturgies that commemorate the Last Supper, Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, Pope Francis said Holy Week “is not primarily about pain and death, but about love and the gift of self that gives life.”

He rode through the crowd in the open popemobile, waving and giving groups a thumbs-up. He kissed several babies, although he only caressed the face of a little boy whose screams and kicks made it clear he wanted nothing to do with a security guard taking him from his mother to pass him to the man in white.

Thursday 28


During the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis called on the world’s priests to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”

Presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Francis blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and anointing of the sick.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, Pope Francis led them in a renewal of their priestly promises. He focused his homily on the meaning of being “the anointed ones” through ordination, underlining Holy Thursday as the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the apostles.

The Pope ended his homily by asking the faithful to “be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.”


Rolando Rivi, an Italian seminarian killed by Communist partisans.

Rolando Rivi, an Italian seminarian killed by Communist partisans.

The Pope authorized a decree stating that Franciscan Father Giuseppe Girotti, an opponent of Italy’s Fascist government who died at Dachau in 1945, was killed “in hatred of the faith.”

Pope Francis likewise recognized the martyrdom of Romanian Father Vladimir Ghika and Hungarian Salesian Brother Stephen Sandor, who were killed by their country’s Communist regimes in 1954 and 1953, respectively.

Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to promulgate equivalent decrees for Rolando Rivi, an Italian seminarian killed by Communist partisans in 1945, during the last days of World War II; and for 58 persons, including the bishop of Jaen, killed between 1936 and 1938 during the Spanish Civil War.

The Church normally requires a miracle to be attributed to the intercession of a deceased Catholic before he or she may be beatified, but that requirement does not apply to recognized martyrs. A miracle is required before any blessed may be canonized.


During the evening Mass at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve young people of different nationalities and faiths, including at least two Muslims and two women, who are housed at the juvenile detention facility.

The ceremony of washing another’s feet “is important,” the Pope said during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, because it shows that “the person who is most high among us must be at the service of the others.”

Father Vladimir Ghika, a martyr

Father Vladimir Ghika, a martyr

The Pope broke with a papal Holy Week tradition of celebrating the evening Mass at a Roman basilica.

The nearly 50 detainees, including about a dozen women, attended the Mass, held in the prison’s small chapel.

Detainees did the readings and led the prayers of the faithful.

A group of young people who volunteer at the prison as well as a local charismatic group provided the music, playing acoustic guitar and leading the singing.

In his brief homily, which he delivered off-the-cuff, Pope Francis explained what the ritual he was about to perform meant and what Jesus was teaching his disciples when he washed their feet at the Last Supper.

While media outlets were not allowed inside the facility, Vatican Radio offered a live audio feed, and the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, briefed reporters afterward.

The detainees, who range in age from 14 to 21, then gave the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler they had made in the detention center’s woodshop.

Among those concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome; Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, the No. 3 official at the Vatican secretariat of state; Capuchin Father Gaetano Greco, prison chaplain; two deacons and two seminarians.

Friday 29

Hungarian Salesian Brother Stephen Sandor was killed by his country’s Communist regime.

Hungarian Salesian Brother Stephen Sandor was killed by his country’s Communist regime.


Pope Francis began the rite after a silent procession down the central nave under dim lighting, which underlined the solemnity of the ceremony. Then he rested his forehead on a red pillow while lying face down in front of the altar in silent prayer, in a sign of adoration and penance.

After the homily, during the veneration of the cross, the Pope removed his red chasuble and, in a sign of penance, placed a red stole over his shoulders, bowed three times and kissed the cross.

Following tradition, the homily was delivered by the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.


Gazing from a hillside overlooking Rome’s Colosseum, where thousands of people gathered to pray the Way of the Cross, Pope Francis said Christ’s cross is God’s response to evil in the world.

The meditations on the 14 Stations of the Cross were written by young people in Lebanon, and they cried out for respect for human life, an end to violence and war and a possibility of hope for a dignified life for the people of the Middle East.

Sunday 31


With Jesus’ resurrection “love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious,” Pope Francis said in his first Easter message urbi et orbi (to the city and the world).

Pope Francis offered special prayers for peace in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, for an end to violence in Africa — especially in Mali, Nigeria, Congo and the Central African Republic — and in Asia, particularly on the Korean peninsula.

He prayed for “peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century.”

Pope Francis presided over the nighttime Easter Vigil, lighting the Easter candle and processing into a St. Peter’s Basilica lit mainly by the flashes of the cameras that people had been asked not to use.

During the Mass, he welcomed into the Catholic Church four men between the ages of 17 and 30. The men from Albania, Italy, Russia and the United States were baptized, confirmed and received their First Communion at the Mass.


Wednesday 3

Pope Francis venerates the crucifix during  the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 29 (Galazka photo).

Pope Francis venerates the crucifix during
the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 29 (Galazka photo).


“Women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love,” the Pope said in St. Peter’s Square.

In the second weekly public audience of his pontificate, Pope Francis resumed a series of catechetical talks on the Creed begun by Pope Benedict XVI in January.

Following the audience, the Pope spent about 45 minutes personally greeting prelates and other dignitaries, as well as members of the general public, including many small children and disabled people in wheelchairs.

Thursday 4


The Pope, wanting to express his spiritual closeness “in a concrete way,” also sent $50,000 to the archdiocese of La Plata to assist victims of the flooding, according to Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, the Vatican nuncio to Argentina. The majority of those who died in Argentina following torrential rains were in and around La Plata.

Friday 5


Pope Francis reaffirmed the importance of responding decisively to the problem of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and called on the Vatican office dealing with suspected cases to continue carrying out its mandate.

He made a particular point of highlighting its work to counter clerical sexual abuse, telling Archbishop Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he wanted the congregation to continue with the policies of retired Pope Benedict XVI and “to act decisively concerning cases of sexual abuse,” the Vatican said in a written statement released after the meeting.

He said he admired “the courage and honesty of Benedict XVI” in confronting the problem, calling for “zero tolerance” and enacting stricter measures to protect children and to punish abusers.

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