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Pope Benedict XVI resigns; Argentine Jesuit named new pope

Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to resign on Feb. 11. He is the first pope in nearly six centuries to resign his post. On March 13, the Vatican named Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Benedict’s replacement A Jesuit priest, and the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years, he took the name Francis.

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Rome (CNN) — It was with a call for the protection of the weakest in society that Francis was officially inaugurated Tuesday as the Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff, before a crowd of tens of thousands bathed in sunlight.

Giving his homily before the throngs in St. Peter’s Square, Francis showed the humility and concern for ordinary people that have been noted since he became the first Latin American to be elected pope six days ago.

pope francis

Courtesy of Fox News


Before he spoke, he was given the official symbols of his papacy: a lamb’s wool shawl, to represent his role as “the good shepherd,” and the Fisherman’s Ring, to represent his role of spreading the gospel.

The ring is not solid gold like that of his predecessors, but made of gold-plated silver — again reflecting his desire for simplicity.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

Pope1VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Friday denied that Pope Francis acquiesced to Argentina’s brutal military regime in the 1970s and ’80s, saying the accusations are part of a “defamatory” campaign.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected pope on Wednesday, has been accused in some quarters of failing to protect two Jesuit priests who challenged the country’s regime, leading to their kidnapping and torture by military officials in 1976.

Those claims were made a decade ago but have received renewed attention since Bergoglio was appointed the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the first Latin American to occupy St. Peter’s chair.

“This campaign against Bergoglio is well known,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a news conference. “It was promoted by a publication which specializes in campaigns which are sometimes slanderous and defamatory. The anti-clerical nature of this campaign and other accusations against Bergoglio is well known and evident.”

Lombardi said “nothing concrete or credible” had even been proven against Bergoglio. He said authorities in Argentina had questioned one person in connection to the case, but nothing came of it.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

VATICAN CITY – Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named the 266th pope Wednesday, succeeding Benedict XVI as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and inheriting a global church that is growing in some parts of the world but faces serious challenges at home and abroad.

Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina,  was elected by his fellow cardinals in their fifth round of voting, securing a two-thirds majority just 24 hours after their conclave began in the magnificent precincts of the Sistine Chapel. He took the papal name Francis I.

[Updated 12:48 p.m. March 14: The surprise choice of Bergoglio gives the church its first non-European leader in more than a millennium and the first from South America. The selection reflects the reality that the church’s center of gravity has moved away from Europe; Latin America is home to nearly half of the world’s Catholics.

Pope1But Francis also represents continuity, a figure whom many of the cardinals already knew well. He finished second in all four rounds of balloting during the 2005 election of Benedict, and hews to the same conservative path of Catholicism.

“You know that the duty of the conclave was to provide Rome with a bishop,” Francis told the crowd in St. Peter's Square, referring to the pope’s traditional position as bishop of Rome. “It looks as if my brothers the cardinals went to fetch him at the end of the world. I would like to thank you for your welcome.”]

The speed of the selection — only a few hours longer than it took the last conclave to choose Benedict in 2005 — showed that the cardinals quickly coalesced behind a candidate despite reports of increasing divisions among the cardinals making the choice.

Vatican watchers speculated over possibly opposing camps that wanted a charismatic, pastoral figure to spread the Christian gospel across the world, or a more managerial leader capable of purging the Vatican bureaucracy of dysfunction and alleged corruption.

Tens of thousands of people waiting in the rain in St. Peter’s Square burst into cheers and screams of joy when white smoke poured out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, signaling a successful vote.

A cry went up of “Habemus papam,” Latin for “We have a pope,” the phrase uttered before Cardinal Jean-Louis Touran of France introduced Benedict’s successor and the new pope emerged from behind red velvet curtains onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The smoke went up shortly after 7 p.m. The basilica’s bells began pealing about a minute later to confirm the election of a new pontiff, delighting the crowds below. The Vatican’s band marched into the square to celebrate the event.

Following centuries of tradition, the man elected by his fellow cardinals would have been asked inside the Sistine Chapel after the vote whether he accepted the responsibility laid on him. He would have announced his papal name, then disappeared to put on his new white vestments in the adjoining Room of Tears, so called because previous popes are said to have been overcome by emotion realizing the burden being placed on them.

The Vatican will now decide which day to install the new pontiff. Though such ceremonies have traditionally fallen on Sunday, the Vatican’s spokesman said that Tuesday, March 19, was a strong possibility because it is the feast day of Joseph, the patron saint of the church.

World leaders reacted to the election of a new pope. Below is President Barack Obama’s statement upon hearing the election of Francis I:

“On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.  As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.  Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.


 Rome (CNN) — Expectation is building once again in Rome after the cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel for a second time Wednesday to cast their votes in the secretive conclave for the next pope.

Black smoke was sent up from a chimney fixed to the chapel roof in the morning after two earlier rounds of voting proved inconclusive.

Now all eyes are trained on the chimney again, to see whether any candidate will this time reach the two-thirds majority needed to be elected pope.


The 115 voting cardinals are taking part in the second day of the secretive conclave to elect a new head of the Roman Catholic Church.

If cardinals elect a pope in the latest round of voting Wednesday, a puff of white smoke could be sent up as soon as 5:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. ET).

For the complete CNN story, go here.

 Rome (CNN) — Black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Tuesday night, indicating that cardinals gathered at the Vatican to elect a new pope had not chosen one in the first ballot of their conclave.

The start of the secret election got underway earlier in the day, as the heavy wooden doors to the chapel swung closed on the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals charged with selecting the next pontiff.

The next round of voting will begin Wednesday morning. Results will be revealed by puffs of smoke from the chimney following each ballot.

Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

 Rome (CNN) — The heavy wooden doors to the Sistine Chapel swung closed Tuesday, signaling the start of the secret election, or conclave, in which 115 Roman Catholic cardinals will pick the next pope.

Now all eyes will turn to the chimney installed on the roof of the historic chapel.

From this point on, the only clue the world will have of what is happening inside will be periodic puffs of smoke that follow each round of voting.

Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.


Courtesy of

On a day rich with symbolism, the scarlet-clad cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel in solemn procession, chanting prayers and watched over by the magnificent paintings of Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Each of the cardinal-electors — those under age 80 who are eligible to vote — then swore an oath of secrecy, led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the most senior cardinal in the conclave.

popeRome (CNN) — Benedict made what is likely to be his last ever public appearance Thursday, thanking cheering crowds for their “friendship” as he steps down as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

“I am no longer the pope but I am still in the church. I’m just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this earth,” he said.

Benedict’s historic resignation as pope takes effect at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).

His final words and a blessing were given to some 10,000 people who had gathered at Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence, to bid him an emotional farewell.

“With all my heart and prayers and thoughts and strengths, I’d like to work for the common good and for the good of the church and mankind,” he said.

“I feel very much supported by your sympathy. We will go together ahead with the Lord, for the good of the church and the world. Thank you very much.”

Smiling slightly, he made the sign of the Cross to bless the crowds and disappeared into the building.

It is likely to be the last time he is seen in public.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

pope Benedykt_XVI VATICAN CITY — Before tens of thousands of people under clear blue skies, Pope Benedict XVI recalled a papacy full of both joy and difficulty as he held his final general audience Wednesday, the eve of his retirement as leader of the world’s Roman Catholics.

Cheers filled St. Peter’s Square as Benedict rode his special Popemobile amid the crowds who had started gathering early in the morning. National flags fluttered alongside banners bearing the simple word “Grazie,” or “thanks.”

It was one of the largest crowds to turn out for Benedict in the colonnaded piazza since he was elevated to the papacy nearly eight years ago. The 85-year-old pope, seated under a canopy on the steps of the grand basilica, responded in several languages to the greetings and tributes read to him from around the world.

He thanked the faithful for their support of his decision to bow to his failing health and become the first pontiff in 600 years to give up the post.

Read the Los Angeles Times article HERE.

popeVATICAN CITY – A week after Pope Benedict announced his resignation, more than 50,000 supporters jammed into St. Peter’s Square on Sunday for his next-to-last weekly blessing, as it emerged the aging pontiff may have gone blind in one eye.

Addressing the cheering crowd, which was larger than usual for the Sunday Angelus, Benedict appeared to criticize the infighting that has plagued the Vatican during his reign.

“The church, which is mother and teacher, calls on all its members to renew their spirit, turn back firmly toward God and ignore pride and egoism to live in love,” he said, before asking in Spanish for prayers to be said for the next pope.

Benedict, 85, shocked the Vatican and the world Feb. 11 by announcing that he would step down at the end of the month due to failing health, although Vatican insiders have also cited a toll taken on the pope by power struggles behind the Vatican walls.

New evidence is emerging of Benedict’s declining physical condition. Peter Seewald, a German journalist who has interviewed Benedict on numerous occasions, said that when he last saw the pope 10 weeks ago, his hearing had deteriorated and he appeared to have gone blind in his left eye.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.