The white smoke came at 7:06 p.m. on the evening of the second day of the Conclave, after the fifth vote.

The College of Cardinals chose Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., 76, to become the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the first Pope ever from Latin America and the first Jesuit ever.

He is the 265th successor of St. Peter.



Pope Francis leads a prayer as he appears for the first time on the central balcony of  St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. In the left corner, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar of Rome; to the right of Pope Francis, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Galazka photo).

Pope Francis leads a prayer as he appears for the first time on the central balcony of
St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 13.
In the left corner, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar of Rome; to the right of Pope Francis, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Galazka photo).

The name “Francis”

The new Pope took the name of Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), but it seems likely that the name is also meant to honor the great evangelizing Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier (1506-1552), since Bergoglio is a Jesuit.

No Pope has ever before taken the name “Francis.”

And this is the first sign that this pontificate may not be easy to predict.

By choosing the name “Francis” instead of other possible names (“Pius XIII,” “John XXIV,” “Paul VII,” “John Paul III,” “Benedict XVII,” or even “Leo XIV”), the new Pope seems to signal that he wishes to chart his own course, break new ground.

The Pope’s age

At 76 years old, Pope Francis is only two years younger than the age (78) at which former Pope Benedict XVI was elected Pope, but 18 years older than Pope John Paul II, the predecessor of Benedict, was when he was elected in 1978 at the age of only 58.


Pontificate to Begin on the Feast of St. Joseph

Pope Francis will be officially installed as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church on March 19, the Vatican said.


Francis’s First Call to Benedict

Pope Francis telephoned Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shortly after his election, and said that he would visit him soon, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.



It is 7:06 p.m. in St. Peter’s Square: white smoke is coming from the chimney.

It is 7:06 p.m. in St. Peter’s Square: white smoke is coming from the chimney.

Inaugural Mass March 19

A papal inaugural Mass is customarily attended by heads of state and governments. The Vatican anticipates the arrival of more than 160 foreign delegations on the Church and state level for the ceremony.


The Reaction of Moscow

“The Russian Orthodox Church welcomes the decision of the conclave of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, and, as before, hopes that relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches will develop in a positive spirit,” said the head of the press-service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Deacon Alexander Volkov.


The Announcement of the Election

The Cardinal Proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran made the solemn announcement of the election to the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square at 8:12 p.m. from the external loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica, so, one hour and six minutes after the white smoke.

The following are the words pronounced by Cardinal Tauran:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;

habemus Papam:

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,

Dominum Georgium Marium

Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio

qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.

“I announce to you a great joy;

we have a Pope:

The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord,

Lord Jorge Mario

of Holy Roman Church Cardinal Bergoglio

who has chosen the name of Francis.


Conclave Notes

The conclave that led to the election of Pope Francis began on Tuesday, March 12, in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with the “Extra omnes” pronounced at 5:33 p.m. by Monsignor Guido Marini, master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, following the taking of the oath by the 115 cardinal electors.

The first black smoke appeared at 7:41 p.m. the same day.

On Wednesday, March 13, there was black smoke at 11:38 a.m.

On Wednesday, March 13, there was white smoke at 7:06 p.m.



The newly elected Pope Francis greets a crowd in St. Peter's Square.

The newly elected Pope Francis greets a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

The New Pope’s First Words

At 8:22 p.m. — ten minutes after the announcement by Cardinal Tauran — the Holy Father Pope Francis, preceded by the cross, appeared on the basilica’s Loggia to greet the people and impart his first “Urbi et Orbi” Apostolic Blessing.

Before the blessing, the Pope addressed the following words to the faithful present and those watching from around the world.

English translation

“Brothers and sisters, good evening.

“You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the ends of the earth to get him. But we are here.

“I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has its bishop. Thank you!

“First of all, I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that Our Lady will protect him.”

The Pope, together with the faithful, then recited:

“Our Father…

“Hail Mary…

“Glory be to the Father…

“And now let us begin this journey: bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of brotherhood, of love, of trust between us.

“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, here present, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

“And now I would like to give the blessing. But first, first, I want to ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord that he bless me — the prayer of the people, asking a blessing for their bishop. Let us say in silence this prayer, of you over me.”

[Here the protodeacon announced that all those who received the new Pope’s blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication, would receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he might lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]

[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi — To the City and to the World.]

“I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.

[Blessing in Latin]

“Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon… We will see one another soon.

Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, that she may protect all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!”



Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Use of the Word “Bishop”

In these first words of his pontificate, Francis did three noteworthy things.

First, he spoke of Emeritus Pope Benedict as “Bishop (of Rome) Emeritus Benedict.”

He did not use the words “Pope Emeritus” to refer to Benedict.

Second, he asked the people to pray to the Lord that the Lord bless him as he began his pontificate, before giving his own blessing to the people.

Third, he said he would go tomorrow to “the Madonna,” meaning the Mother of God, Mary, at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where there is a very ancient icon of Mary and the Child Jesus, traditionally believed to have been painted by St. Luke, called the Salus Populi Romani, the Protection of the Roman People.

In this sense, Francis’s first public act after his election was to pray before the Virgin Mary.

First Analysis

My old friend and respected colleague, Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister, has already posted a quite interesting commentary on the election of Pope Francis.

Sandro seems to like Bergoglio — Pope Francis — quite a lot.

He writes:

The First Pope Named Francis

He is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He is Argentine and Jesuit. He leaves Buenos Aires for Rome. His appointment has upset all of the predictions. But he comes from far away

By Sandro Magister

ROME, March 13, 2013 – By electing as pope at the fourth scrutiny the archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the conclave has made a move as surprising as it is brilliant.

Surprising for those — almost everyone — who had not noticed, during the preceding days, the effective appearance of his name in the conversations among the cardinals. His relatively advanced age, 76 years and three months, led him to be classified more among the great electors than among the possible elect…

In the conclave of 2005 the opposite had happened for him. Bergoglio was one of the most decisive supporters of the appointment of Joseph Ratzinger as pope. And instead he found himself voted for, against his own will, precisely by those who wanted to block the appointment of Benedict XVI.

The fact remains that both one and the other became pope: Bergoglio with the unprecedented name of Francis.

A name that reflects his humble life. Having become archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he left empty the sumptuous episcopal residence next to the cathedral. He went to live in an apartment a short distance away, together with another elderly bishop. In the evening he was the one who saw to the cooking. He rarely rode in cars, getting around by bus, dressed in the cassock of an ordinary priest.

But he is also a man who knows how to govern. With firmness and against the tide. He is a Jesuit — the first to have become Pope — and during the terrible 1970s, when the dictatorship was raging and some of his confrères were ready to embrace the rifle and apply the lessons of Marx, he energetically opposed the tendency as provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina.

He has always carefully kept his distance from the Roman Curia. It is certain that he will want it to be lean, clean, and loyal.

He is a pastor of sound doctrine and of concrete realism. To the Argentines reduced to hunger he has given much more than bread. He has urged them to pick the catechism back up again — that of the ten commandments and the beatitudes. “This is the way of Jesus,” he would say. And one who follows Jesus understands that “trampling the dignity of a woman, of a man, of a child, of an elderly person is a grave sin that cries out to heaven,” and therefore decides to do it no more.

The simplicity of his vision makes itself felt in his holiness of life. With his few and simple first words as pope he immediately won over the crowd packed into St. Peter’s Square. He had them pray in silence.

And he also had them pray for his predecessor, Benedict XVI, whom he did not call “pope,” but “bishop.”

The surprise is only beginning.



Pope Francis, center, addresses the crowd after appearing for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on March 13 (CNS photo)

Pope Francis, center, addresses the crowd after appearing for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13 (CNS photo)


Pope John Paul II made Bergoglio a cardinal in February of 2001.

Bergoglio is a man whose words are matched by his actions. A man who does what he calls upon others to do.

He is a man who is able to seek out the poor, the ostracized, the abandoned, and he is a man who lives out his faith.

So here we have one clue to this election — which came as a surprise, as we were all watching for Scola, Scherer, or Ouellet, or even O’Malley, Erdo or Dolan.

The election was able to mesh two desires: the desire of the “outsiders” to have a “non-Curial” cardinal take over the throne of Peter to reform the Curia, and the desire of Cardinal Sodano to have a Latin American as the successor of Peter.


The Two Popes

The role Francis — who now has full authority in the Church, even over Emeritus Pope Benedict —  assigns to his living predecessor will be one of the first great decisions of his pontificate.

The cardinals who have elected him expect the new Pope to intervene immediately and decisively to restore order in the Curia. The very first act of John XXIII as Pope was the appointment of his new secretary of state: the eminently qualified Domenico Tardini, a first-rate diplomat.

The same is expected from the new Pope. So the second great decision of the new pontificate will be this: the choice of a new secretary of state.

The third great decision is how and in what way and to what extent Pope Francis will make his own the agenda of Pope Benedict XVI.

“The real problem at this moment of our history,” Pope Benedict wrote in his justly famous March 10, 2009 letter to all the Catholic bishops in the world, “is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.”

So, the third great decision of Pope Francis will be to choose the methods and means he wishes to use to revive the Christian faith where it is almost extinguished, and to germinate it where it has not yet arrived.


Final Note

Pope Francis is the first Pope to have been ordained a priest after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Pope Benedict XVI will therefore, most likely, be the last Pope who was a priest in the pre-conciliar era and was connected with the Council.

And here are some quotations from Cardinal Bergoglio, sent to me by my good friend and colleague, Andrew Rabel of Australia:

“The symptoms of disenchantment are various: the enchantment of methods that always promise better things, that of an economy that offers almost unlimited possibilities in all aspects of life to those who manage to be included in that system.”— Cardinal Bergoglio against an enchantment that ignores the poor


“Today the country [Argentina], confronting this situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Spirit to put the light of truth amid the darkness of error; needs this advocate to defend us from the spell of many sophistries which seek to justify this legal project, and which are used to confuse and mislead even people of good will.” — Cardinal Bergoglio on “marriage”

“The suffering of innocents and the peaceful continues to slap us, the contempt for the rights of the most fragile individuals and peoples is not so far away; the empire of money with his demonic effects like drug abuse, corruption, trafficking people, including children, along with material and moral poverty are rife.” — Cardinal Bergoglio

“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” — Cardinal Bergoglio

“Mary’s deep relationship with the Eucharist can guide the faithful and allow people to get closer to God. She is the ‘model of the bond between the Lord and his bride, the Church, between God and each man.’” —Cardinal Bergoglio

“The right to life is a fundamental human right.”— Cardinal Bergoglio



Crowds waited for the news of the new pope

Crowds waited for the news of the new pope

A Beautiful Letter

May the Holy Family join us “in God’s war”

Two years ago, Cardinal Bergoglio wrote a beautiful letter sent to the Carmelites of his diocese regarding the grave matter of the legal redefinition of marriage.

[Letter of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires (June 22, 2010)]

Dear Sisters,

I write this letter to each one of you in the four Monasteries of Buenos Aires. The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same gender.

The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated against beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy.

I recall words of Saint Thérèse when she speaks of the infirmity of her childhood. She says that the envy of the Devil tried to extort her family after her older sister joined the Carmel. Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a “move” of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.

Jesus tells us that, in order to defend us from this lying accuser, he will send us the Spirit of Truth. Today, the Nation [patria], faced with this situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Ghost that may place the light of Truth amid the shadows of error; it needs this Advocate who may defend us from the enchantment of so many sophisms with which this bill is being justified, and which confuse and deceive even people of good will.

That is why I turn to you and ask from you prayer and sacrifice, the two invincible weapons which Saint Thérèse confessed to have. Cry out to the Lord that he may send his Spirit to the Senators who are to place their votes, that they may not do it moved by error or by circumstantial matters, but rather according to what the natural law and the law of God tell them. Pray for them, for their families; that the Lord may visit, strengthen, and console them. Pray that they may do great good for the Nation.

This bill will be discussed in the Senate after July 13. Let us look towards Saint Joseph, to Mary, the Child, and let us ask with fervor that they will defend the Argentine family in this moment. Let us recall what God himself told his people in a time of great anguish: “This war is not yours, but God’s.” May they succor, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.

Thank you for what you will do in this struggle for the Nation. And, please, I beg you, pray for me also. May Jesus bless you, and may the Blessed Virgin protect you.


Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires

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