The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics today welcomed the new pope from Argentina, who will serve as a symbol of faith and hope to all.
Latin Americans reacted with joy and burst into tears at the news that an Argentine cardinal has become the first pope from the region.
Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, has been confirmed as the new Pope today and will take the name Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to lead the Catholic Church.
Conclave elects new pope
White smoke emerged from the chimney of the Sistine chapel, signalling that cardinals decided on a successor to Pope Benedict.
The Conclave, in which the cardinals were locked up, and sworn to secrecy was formed to elect the new Pope once a candidate garnered a two-thirds majority.
Then the white smoke rose, signalling the waiting was over. The White smoke told the world that a successor to Pope Benedict has been elected, and the new Pope appeared in front of hundreds thousands of Catholics in the Vatican.
Who is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Cardinal Bergoglio was born into a middle-class family of seven. His father an Italian immigrant railway worker, and his mother a housewife.
Reports say Cardinal Bergoglio is the oldest of most of the possible candidates. He is the first non-European pope since Syrian-born Gregory III in the 8th century and the third successive non-Italian pontiff.
The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ inaugural mass would be on March 19.
US Welcomes New pope
In his remarks in Washington DC today, US State Department Secretary John Kerry said the United States offers its heartfelt congratulations to His Holiness Pope Francis, who will lead and guide the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and serve as a symbol of faith and hope to all.
“For Teresa and I, our Catholic faith is a source of strength and comfort every day, from Sunday to Sunday, in moments of difficulty and moments of joy, and an inspiration to act on issues of social justice and global responsibility.” – Secretary Kerry
Secretary Kerry says he will keep the Holy Father in his prayers together with his wife Teresa as Pope Francis begins a new era for the Catholic Church.
“On this momentous day, the United States renews its commitment to working closely with the Holy See to advance our shared belief in peace and humanity,” he said.
“We offer the Holy Father our warmest wishes of success in advancing peace, freedom, and human dignity throughout the world.” – Secretary Kerry
Catholics Stunned by Pope Benedict XVI Resignation
Citing that he no longer had the strength to fulfill the duties of his office, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation last month.
Reports say Pope Benedict XVI delivered his resignation – effective Feb. 28.
The announcement has drawn different reactions worldwide and stunned his closest aides and more than 1 billion Catholics as well.
Pope Benedict XVI is reportedly the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.
Having a reputation as a traditionalist leader, Pope Benedict delivered his resignation to a private church body in Vatican City, citing his incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to him.
Pope Benedict’s Legacy
As a conservative and formidable theologian who preached a gospel of conservative faith to a fast-changing world, Pope Benedict preached to Catholics to kneel and receive sacrament on the tongue only.
Pope Benedict XVI said he did not want the faithful receiving Communion in their hand nor did he want them standing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
According to Vatican liturgist, Monsignor Guido Marini, the pope was trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion. After his announcement, communicants at his papal Masses were asked to kneel and receive on the tongue.
The Holy Father’s reasoning was simple: “We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God.” (May 22, 2008)
According to the pope, the entire Church should kneel in adoration before God in the Eucharist.
The pope’s action was in accord with the Church’s 2000 year tradition. It is being done in order to foster a renewed love and respect for the Eucharist which presently is being mocked and treated with contempt in a fast-changing world.
Pope Benedict’s papacy began in 2005 and it is only the second time a head of the Catholic church has stepped down of his own accord.