March 13, 2013, Wednesday — Pope Francis

The white smoke came at 7:06 p.m., on the evening of the second day of the Conclave, after the 5th 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.

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, who was only 58 when he was elected in 1978.

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, next Tuesday, the Vatican said today.

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.

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, 1 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 Maria

of Holy Roman Church Cardinal Bergoglio

who upon himself the name imposed 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 took place 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 new Pope’s first words

At 20:22 — 10 minutes after the announcement by Cardinal Tauran — the Holy Father Pope Francis, preceded by the cross, appeared on the Loggia of the Basilica 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 watching from around the world (I give the text first in the Italian that he spoke, then in English translation:

Fratelli e sorelle, buonasera!

Voi sapete che il dovere del Conclave era di dare un Vescovo a Roma. Sembra che i miei fratelli Cardinali siano andati a prenderlo quasi alla fine del mondo … ma siamo qui … Vi ringrazio dell’accoglienza. La comunità diocesana di Roma ha il suo Vescovo: grazie! E prima di tutto, vorrei fare una preghiera per il nostro Vescovo emerito, Benedetto XVI. Preghiamo tutti insieme per lui, perché il Signore lo benedica e la Madonna lo custodisca.

[The Pope together with the faithful then recited the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.]

E adesso, incominciamo questo cammino: Vescovo e popolo. Questo cammino della Chiesa di Roma, che è quella che presiede nella carità tutte le Chiese. Un cammino di fratellanza, di amore, di fiducia tra noi. Preghiamo sempre per noi: l’uno per l’altro. Preghiamo per tutto il mondo, perché ci sia una grande fratellanza. Vi auguro che questo cammino di Chiesa, che oggi incominciamo e nel quale mi aiuterà il mio Cardinale Vicario, qui presente, sia fruttuoso per l’evangelizzazione di questa città tanto bella!

E adesso vorrei dare la Benedizione, ma prima – prima, vi chiedo un favore: prima che il vescovo benedica il popolo, vi chiedo che voi preghiate il Signore perché mi benedica: la preghiera del popolo, chiedendo la Benedizione per il suo Vescovo. Facciamo in silenzio questa preghiera di voi su di me.


Adesso darò la Benedizione a voi e a tutto il mondo, a tutti gli uomini e le donne di buona volontà.

[Blessing, in Latin]

Fratelli e sorelle, vi lascio. Grazie tante dell’accoglienza. Pregate per me e a presto! Ci vediamo presto: domani voglio andare a pregare la Madonna, perché custodisca tutta Roma. Buona notte e buon riposo!

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 end of the world 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 pray 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.

“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 Benediction for their Bishop. Let us say in silnce this prayer, of you over me.

[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may 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!”

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 prayer to the Lord that the Lord bless him as he began his pontificate, before giving his own blessing of the people.

Third, he said he would go tomorrow to “the Madonna,” meanig 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, tradiitonally 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 will be to pray before the Virgin Mary.

First Analysis

My old frend 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 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 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 1970’s, 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 of 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.

(Here is a link to the article:


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

“On that occasion, Bergoglio distinguished himself by his reserve among his many more festive colleagues,” Magister notes in an article from 2002. “Hundreds of Argentinians had begun fundraising efforts to fly to Rome to pay homage to the new man with the red hat. But Bergoglio stopped them. He ordered them to remain in Argentina and distribute the money they had raised to the poor. In Rome, he celebrated his new honor nearly alone — and with Lenten austerity.”

In short, Bergoglio is a man whose words are matched by his actions.

A man who does what he calls upon others to do.

“There isn’t a politician [in Argentina], from the right to the extreme left, who isn’t dying for the blessing of Bergoglio,” Magister writes. “Even the women of Plaza de Mayo, ultraradicals and unbridled anti-Catholics, treat him with respect. He has even made inroads with one of them in private meetings. On another occasion, he visited the deathbed of an ex-bishop, Jeronimo Podestá, who had married in defiance of the Church and was dying poor and forgotten by all. From that moment, Mrs. Podestá became one of his devoted fans.”

So he is a man who is able to seek out the poor, the ostracized, the abandoned.

He is a man who lives out his faith.

And note well: “Someone in the Vatican had the idea to call him to direct an important dicastery,” Magister writes. “‘Please, I would die in the Curia,’ Bergoglio implored. They spared him.”

So, he is not a man who desired to be in the Roman Curia, or would have chosen to become the head of the Roman Curia.

In 2002, Magister wrote: “Since that time, the thought of having him return to Rome as the successor of Peter has begun to spread with growing intensity. The Latin-American cardinals are increasingly focused upon him, as is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The only key figure among the Curia who hesitates when he hears his name is Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano — the very man known for supporting the idea of a Latin-American pope.”

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

Bergoglio responded to both desires.

Biography: The Life of a Jesuit

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936.

He studied chemistry before becoming a Jesuit. He became a priest at the age of 33. He studied philosophy, literature, psychology, and theology in various universities in Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Germany.

In 1973, he was made the provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina. But in 1980 he returned to his studies and disappeared from public view.

In 1992 he was named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. In 1998, he became the city´s archbishop. John Paul II made him a cardinal in 2001.

He is the vice-president of the Argentine episcopal conference and is part of the secretary´s council of the worldwide synod of bishops. He speaks Italian well.

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 makes 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.”

(Here is a link to that letter:

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 had been 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 with which to seeks to justify this legal project, and which is used to confuse and mislead 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 are 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

A Beautiful Letter

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

Cardinal Bergoglio is hostile toward the Traditional Mass, but he 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 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], before 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”. That they may succour, 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.


Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio s.j., Archbishop of Buenos Aires

Official statement on the election

Statement issued by Opus Dei:

This is a moment of great joy for Catholics all over the world. Pope Francis is the 266th successor of Peter. From the moment the white smoke was first seen we have welcomed him with great thanks. And now, following the example of Benedict XVI, we express to him our unconditional reverence and obedience. And also our affection and prayer, continuing the prayers that we shared with the Pope during his first appearance on the balcony of blessings in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

In this moment filled with emotion, when the Church’s universality is vividly sensed, I reaffirm to the new Roman Pontiff complete adhesion to his person and ministry, with the certainty that I am expressing the sentiments of the faithful, both priests and laity, of the Prelature of Opus Dei. We all entrust ourselves to the prayers of His Holiness, in order to contribute effectively, with joyful availability, to the work of evangelization that the Pope has mentioned in his first greeting to the Church.

During these weeks of serene waiting, much has been said about the burden that weighs on the shoulders of the Holy Father. But let us not forget that the Pope relies on God’s help, on the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the affection and prayers of all Catholics, and of millions of other men and women of good will.

As Saint Josemaría Escrivá always advised, I ask our Lord today very especially that all of us Catholics may share “one will, one heart, one spirit, so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam — so that we may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary (The Forge, 647).

+ Javier Echevarría
Prelate of Opus Dei

“Tu es Petrus”

Tu es Petrus.

Today we have a new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Let us pray for this simple, humble, charitable man as he takes the helm of the barque of Peter in these difficult times.

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