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Welcome, Pope Francis

Let’s pray that he will inspire all Catholics to join him in the urgent task of rebuilding the Church

By on Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Our cartoonist Christian Adams considers the Pope's task ahead

Our cartoonist Christian Adams considers the Pope's task ahead

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope this evening was a surprise. But perhaps, with hindsight, it shouldn’t have been. According to unofficial accounts he came second in the conclave balloting to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005. But somehow he kept out of the media spotlight in the run-up to this conclave, leading many to strike him off the lists of papabili hastily pulled out of journalists’ drawers when Pope Benedict dramatically abdicated last month.

But the College of Cardinals had not forgotten him. And they elected him tonight on the fifth vote, an indication that he had received significant support from the very first ballot. The cardinals clearly believe that he is the man to lead God’s Church at this extraordinary moment in Catholic history.

Pope Francis’s first address this evening showed his extraordinary humility. He asked, astonishingly, for the blessing of the crowd in St Peter’s Square, before he gave his own blessing. His name calls to mind the many great men called Francis in Church history, but above all St Francis of Assisi, who heard a call from God to “rebuild my Church”. Pope Francis must consider this his summons, too. The Church has been profoundly damaged by abuse scandals, allegations of corruption within the Roman Curia and the loss of faith among so many Catholics.

Let’s pray for our new Holy Father, that he will inspire all Catholics to join him in the urgent task of rebuilding the Church, so that the light of Christ within it will shine out ever more clearly into the world.

  • Mikethelionheart

    “Francis, rebuild my Church.”

    Wonderful news.

  • teigitur

    God Bless Pope Francis.

  • Percy_Fleur

    Viva il Papa!

  • true catholic

    This is  a miracle…..

    …a  humble spiritual man from the developing world to walk in the footsteps of St Peter.
    …a Jesuit ,  a member of an order which since the late seventies have made  an option to the poor of the world.
    …God forgive all the disgraceful people who have so injured the simple trusting faith of  so many Catholics….may the Lord give Francis the strength and wisdom to root out all  the filth  and corruption which weighed so heavily on Benedict….

    May Francis’ simplicity charm the people of faith and no faith ……God bless his every word and action.

  • James H

    The first non-European Pope since AD714! Just as the lights are all going out in Europe.

    I wonder if they’ll move the papacy to South America if Rome gets blasted?

  • carrot top

    Whilst attempting – and, admittedly, still failing - to dry my tears and mend my broken heart at the retirement of Pope Benedict (Emeritus) XVI, I focused my gaze on the tiny statues nestling for space on my shrine shelf - The Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Lourdes, St Therese of Lisieux, St Michael the Archangel and my treasured, sixty year old beloved Bakelite, beautifully detailed and kiss-stained statue of my lifelong favourite Saint – Anthony of Padua.

    As we know, Saint Anthony was more than a saint who found lost stuff – lost souls, lost property, proper diagnosis of illness and disease (he worked wonders there when my doctors and specialists were clueless) etc. etc. but he was known as the Hammer of the Heretics. He was also a friend of Saint Francis of Assisi. Like him, he was a most effective and fearless teacher, preacher and priest.

    I began a fresh Nine Tuesday Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua yesterday. At the end of these individual prayers, an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be are said for the Holy Father’s intentions.

    I asked St Anthony to whisper into the ears of the Blessed Trinity this favour - to help the cardinals in the Conclave find the ‘right man to fill the shoes of St Peter and that he will be a Roman Catholic’

    (The second request is not as hare-brained or as daft as it sounds)

    I joined those prayers with the others that I say regularly and at the elevation and reception of the Body and Blood of Christ at Holy Mass.

    Like the rest of the world, we saw for ourselves a new Pope emerging – Francis I.

    I was stunned, like the rest of the world.

    However, unsurprisingly, yet another Pope from a country which has suffered its fair share of oppression, evil and suffering.

    And what were the prayers Pope Francis I lead before his first Urbi et Orbi?

    Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

  • David Lindsay

    A scientist, a Chemistry graduate. That is significant. For one thing, why is there so much Natural Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and so on, written in terms of, and by reference to, Physics and Biology, but little or none written in terms of, and by reference to, Chemistry? I have wondered that ever since I was a Theology undergraduate. We may be about to find. We may be about to see it change. At the very least, the Pope is a qualified scientist. And that matters.

    He may be a Jesuit, but that white cassock is Dominican; if you read the contrary on the Internet, then suspect that to have been written by a Jesuit. It is always a Dominican who is the Theologian of the Papal Household, who should keep him right.

    But the Argentine Jesuits were in the vanguard of opposition during the Dirty War, and his links to Communion and Liberation indicate a man fully committed to the inseparability, the catholicity, of traditional family values from social justice and from peace, and vice versa, all bound together by an absolute commitment to the sanctity of each individual human life from fertilisation to natural death, itself the expression of utterly orthodox Christology and sacramental, supremely Eucharistic, theology. Kathoulo, indeed.

    I do wish that people asking what this means for the Falklands, and digging up sermons delivered at Falklands War anniversary events or what have you, would give over. What else was he supposed to say, on the occasion? And it probably depends how you translate it. But on the principle of the thing, you are really only asking whether he is Argentine, which in point of fact he is. It has nothing to do with being Pope. What possible difference could it make to anything? The Papal States, with the Pope as their temporal sovereign, were regularly at war with other utterly Catholic countries for a thousand years. It has nothing to do with the Petrine Office.

    “Francis” is at least as likely to have been taken for the legendary (but in no sense mythical) missionary Saint Francis Xavier, one of the very first Jesuits, as it is to have been taken for Saint Francis of Assisi. That would tie in very well with the Holy Father’s opening address about the re-evangelisation of “Rome”, i.e., of Europe and the West. Even more, in a European context, it might be a reference to Saint Francis de Sales, although he was not a Jesuit.

    There are a lot of Italian-Argentines, such as the late General Galtieri. I heard the Pope speaking in Italian, his parental language, and I wondered how foreign he sounded to a Roman crowd. American-in-Britain foreign, and vice versa? More foreign than that, like a Frenchman or a German speaking English? Or what? I now understand that Argentinians sound odd when speaking Spanish, with their Italian, German, English or Irish accents. Certainly, Anglo-Argentines speak English without the slightest hint that they are not Southern middle class. Britain and Argentina: disputes within families are always the worst…

    Nevertheless, I am baffled at the suggestion that Catholics in Britain might have anything against an Argentine Pope, or vice versa. The Pope was an Italian on every single day of the Second World War, and for 33 more years thereafter.

    It would be entirely understandable if the Pope did not take these Islands terribly seriously these days. But Jesuits used to. And if he still does, then he has his work cut out for him. All that most people here can see, I fear, is a Conclave with no British representation electing an Argentine the day after the Falkland Islands referendum result.

    God Bless Our Pope!

  • David Lindsay

     The Portuguese Court did that once. Just emigrated to the New World.

  • carrot top

    Hear, hear and hear some more!

  • David Lindsay

     You are very kind.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     ‘The Jesuits used to’
    Indeed ‘the cost was reckoned’.

  • James M

    He’s in trouble already – traditionalists on one site are already predicting persecution during his pontificate. And Catholics on another site of very different views are almost as gloomy, for different reasons. Some Catholics would be as miserable as sin if Jesus Christ were elected Pope.

    He really will need all the help he can get.

  • Arinannayan

    An Argentine Jesuit, a man of humility and faith who understands the language of Science – fabulous! He certainly has his work cut out for him and with our constant prayer for the Holy Church and Pope Francis, we must have faith that we will all take his lead and help rebuild our Church. A day to celebrate!

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    LOVE and prayers for our New Pope FRANCIS.

    May Francis our New Pope REBUILD THE CHURCH by doing what Jesus the Lord did, PROMOTING APOSTLESHIP, for only Apostles can proclaim the THE WORD OF GOD in the SPIRIT OF JESUS THE LORD, thus bring SALVATION to our lost world.

    THE GREATEST HISTORICAL SIN of organised Christianity (here the CHURCH was reduced into an INSTITUTION)  was DIVIDING Priesthood from APOSTLESHIP.

    By INSTITUTIONALISATION of the Church of the Lord, the WORLD “TOOK CHARGE”  OF THE LORD and thus did away with him practically except for claim, ritual, dogma and drama. PRACTICALLY APOSTLESHIP too WAS DONE AWAY WITH AND THE CHURCH DESCENED TO the common ground of all other Religions and started HIGHLIGHTING Priesthood in place of APOSTLESHIP, the highest gift of The Lord through HOLY SPIRIT.

    After his original twelve Apostles Jesus the Lord Promoted so many others to APOSTLESHIP, that was the way it came to be, how EVERY CHRISTIAN WAS AN APOSTLE in the Primitive Church and the Church under the guidance, direction and protection of THE SPIRIT OF JESUS went on growing from glory to glory.


    JESUS OUR LORD, be with our New Pope Francis and all  of us your people and help us to PROCLAIM YOUR WORD of salvation to the whole world. Mary Mystical Rose of God, be with us and pray for us. God’s Angels and Saints pray for us.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • I wonder….

    Good luck to him. Though this may not be such great news for the UK. He made some very outspoken remarks against the British and also the people of the Falkland Islands last year on the 30th anniversary of the Argentine Invasion. Also offering prayers for the Argentine dead in the conflict, but pointedly not doing the same for the British dead. Mind you he was in Argentina at the time and to have offered prayers for the British Soldiers would probably have been ex-communicable there.

    The people of the Falkland Islands may now feel they also have to take on God, and I don’t think there will be an English or Welsh Cardinal anytime soon!!

  • Peter

    The Church is in a far healthy state globally than that depicted by the cartoon, and vocations both priestly and religious are booming.

    The problem the global Church faces is not so much sex and corruption – so beloved of the Western  media and the chattering classes – but the disgraceful reality that so many Catholics are desperately poor, while others – such as we in this country – are relatively far richer.

    Even among newly developed economies like Brazil, which is overtaking Britain, France and Italy in total wealth, there is the unacceptable fact that, while many are incredibly wealthy, there around 50 million who are on the poverty line, and the same is echoed throughout South America.

    And the situation among Catholics in Africa and Asia is even more tragic, with hundreds of millions suffering from lack of adequate nutrition, sanitation, shelter, healthcare and security.

    It is intolerable to call ourselves Catholics and not be moved by the scandal of inequality among our brothers and sisters.  It is this inequality, this blatant injustice, which is eating at the heart of the Church and which, hopefully, the new Pontiff will address.

    Of course, it suits the media in the rich West to point to other problems facing the Church.  By doing so, by ignoring the problem of profound inequality, they do not have to feel guilty about their own incredible wealth and the desperate poverty in much of the rest of the world.

  • $20596475

    As I spend half my life in one of those poverty stricken countries, which you quite rightly identify as the key issue facing your Church, and therefore your new Pope, I have witnessed the effects first hand. My observation is that it suits some in the Church that the people are poor. Of course, individual priests show great concern, and work hard to alleviate the effects, but the hierarchy fear progress, and prosperity, because they see this resulting in a drift away from the Church, a lowering of the values they hold dear and, sorry to say, a lessoning of the power they currently enjoy.  I have heard it said, by some in the hierarchy, that poverty is a good thing, for to suffer on earth means that you are better prepared for the next life, as you will understand better what Jesus suffered. Whether your new Pope can change this mindset remains to be seen, but I hope so. He has a lot to do. At 76 this is a big ask, so I hope his health stays good. As 20% of people over 80 have dementia I trust he stays free of it, and have to wonder what the Church would now do if it became apparent that he was diagnosed with this, or any other serious illness.  

  • Mikethelionheart

    Let the fools be miserable.

    For us faithful Catholics we have happiness.

  • Peter

    This is the fundamental imbalance which is tearing at the heart of the global Church, as more and more cardinals who emerge from developing countries find the opulence of the western Church at odds with the reality they experience back home. 

    However, nobody says that enforced poverty is a good thing, especially where children are concerned.  Absolutely nobody.  That is probably your imagination.  Or you have heard it from the wrong kind of people.

    To be a Catholic is to be part of a global brotherhood.  To presume to call oneself Catholic is to take upon oneself the burden of ensuring that all fellow Catholics around the world are in no worse a position than you are.

    The problem for Catholicism is not so much poor societies getting richer and leaving the Church, as rich societies leaving the Church because they do not understand their mission to help the poor.

  • Peccantemmequotidie

     “Some Catholics would be as miserable as sin if Jesus Christ were elected Pope.”

    With good reason, no doubt. After all, how could they complain about his liturgical preferences?

  • Collins

    The words ‘non serviam’ was ready on the lips of liberals, SSPX and sedevacantists as soon as the Pope stepped forth. It is too bad, I wish they would share in the joy and grace the rest of us Catholics are feeling. 

  • Rescue

    This is horrible, the worst result possible.
    We catholics now have two old popes.

  • Laurence

    So many signs, if we would be attentive enough. A lone bird perched on the cowl of the roof of the Sistine Chapel for a long time prior to the announcement. A bolt of lightning hits Saint Peter’s around the Angelus on the 28th February. Now this…

  • Marcella Carmen C.

    Re previous query, Bergoglio sounds like a Spaniard speaking Italian, as Italian is not his native tongue.  I suppose one could make the comparison to an American speaking English but he is not that fluent.

  • Frank

    I agree. It is a difficult task and I think it is a shame that the work carried-out throughout the world by Catholics and other Christians does not get much visibility in the media.  

  • Frank

    Well the ones who are worrying are probably exaggerating but whatever the reasons they’ll soon get over it.

  • SanPedro Calungsod


  • John rice

    So Francis is going to rebuild The Church! Maybe he should start with the Jesuits? The number of Jesuits has fallen by 60% since 1960 and today the average age of a Jesuit priest is 64. Francis is 74! To be polite the ‘evangelisation’ is not going to happen while the Vatican II modernists are in control. The good news is that within 15 years the modernist will be dead and the priest and orders of tradition, what we once called orthodox ‘Catholics’ can rebuild The Church out of the rubble of VII.