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PopeFrancis_NewsVAPope Francis takes possession of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome.

Photo Credit: L’Osservatore Romano


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PopeFrancis_001Yesterday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., 76, was selected by the Cardinal-Electors as the 266th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, choosing the name Francis after the great humble servant St. Francis of Assisi. He becomes the first Jesuit, the first South American, and the first from the southern hemisphere to be elected Pope.

From the very beginning, when Pope Francis emerged onto the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica in the simple white cassock, it was evident that our new Holy Father was going to perform his duties in such a way distinctive from his predecessors. When he asked the crowd that had gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray with him for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I was furthermore impressed with him. But, what helped me start to recognize the type of leader he would be for our church was his request of the crowd present in the square below him—“before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop.” It was an incredibly moving and emotional moment.

Since news of his election became public, like most Catholics around the world, I have spent every available minute researching Cardinal Bergoglio. According to the biography sent out by the Vatican Press Office shortly after his initial Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires to parents of Italian descent; his father immigrated to Argentina from Italy while his mother was born in Buenos Aires to Italian immigrant parents. Pope Francis is one of five children, three of whom are deceased. In an interview with Argentine media, his only remaining sister María Elena said that she had “prayed he wouldn’t be chosen” as Pope because of the tremendous challenges facing the Church. When she found out that the Cardinals had elected him as the new Holy Father, María recalled she wanted to give her big brother a hug.

PopeFrancisFamilyWithin his now-former archdiocese, Pope Francis is already being called “el papa de los villeros”—“the Pope of the slum dwellers”—because of his deep concern and compassion for the poor. As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was very much aware of the plight of the poor within his community and chose to serve them and minister to them in way that truly exemplifies the Gospel message of Christ. He doubled the number of priests serving in the most impoverished areas of Buenos Aires, continually visited those who were imprisoned, and shared in the suffering of those in hospitals. The general consensus amongst the faithful: “Everyone here felt very close to him.”

Throughout his time as Cardinal Archbishop of the Argentine capital, the Holy Father lived in a simple apartment, cooked his own meals, and traveled to work using public transportation. His humility gave him a “closeness with the street” that allowed him to thoroughly recognize and respond to the needs of the people he served. He cherished his people in a way that only a shepherd cares for his sheep: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”—Isaiah 40:11

Ladies and gentlemen, the Holy Spirit has given us a tremendous pastor, a shepherd who will guide the Church of Christ with a firm yet gentle grasp, by compassionately serving those who are most in need, and through teachings that give us courage to embrace the many crosses that may arise along the journey of life. He will strengthen us by his prayers. He will lead by example. He will challenge us to grow in holiness. He will invite us to participate more fully in the life of the Church. And—most importantly—he will teach us what it means to be disciples of the Lord.

Viva il Papa!


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Good morning, folks. This morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced a November 24th consistory that will increase the number of Cardinal Electors by six to 122. The Cardinals-elect are:

  • Archbishop James Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household
  • His Beatitude, Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Church
  • His Beatitude, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church
  • Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
  • Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia
  • Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines

Cardinal-elect Harvey was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and has served as Prefect of the Pontifical Household since his appointment to that position by Pope John Paul II in 1998.


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20120428-132028.jpgEarlier this week, in commemoration of Pope Benedict XVI’s election anniversary, the Vatican announced a new technological endeavor that would help “diffuse the teachings of the Holy Father, thus further enhancing the Papal Magisterium.” The new tool is a widget that can be placed on blogs and websites by request.

The day of the announcement, I put in my request with the Vatican, along with about 2000 other people. Yesterday, I received an email from the Vatican informing me that my request had been approved.

If you would like to receive your own widget, click on the following link and complete all the required steps. It’s very easy to do. http://www.vatican.va/widget/widget.htm


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During this morning’s Angelus following Mass celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI announced that a consistory will be held between February 18th in Rome. Below is the full list of 22 Cardinal-designates:

  • Italian Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, 65
  • Portuguese Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 73
  • Spanish Archbishop Santos Abril Castello, archpriest of Basilica of St. Mary Major, 76
  • Italian Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, 73
  • Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State, 69
  • Italian Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Interpreting Legislative Texts, 73
  • Brazilian Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, 64
  • U.S. Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, 72
  • Italian Archbishop Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, 68
  • Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, president of Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, 68
  • Syro-Malabar Archbishop George Alencherry of India, 66Canadian Archbishop Thomas C. Collins of Toronto, 64
  • Czech Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague, 68
  • Dutch Archbishop Willem J. Eijk of Utrecht, 58
  • Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, 64
  • U.S. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, 61
  • German Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin, 55
  • Chinese Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, 72
  • Romanian Archbishop Lucian Muresan of Fagaras and Alba Julia, 80
  • Belgian Father Julien Ries, expert on history of religions, 91
  • Maltese Augustinian Father Prosper Grech, biblical scholar, 86
  • German Jesuit Father Karl Josef Becker, theologian, 83

Congratulations to all of the Cardinal-designates, especially Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Edwin Cardinal O’Brien.


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