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Pope Francis I
This week, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected to be the 265th successor of Saint Peter. He has chosen the name Pope Francis.
When the white smoke appeared from the chimney over the Sistine Chapel, hundreds of people standing in the rain in St Peter's Square began to run through the streets to tell family and friends. Within minutes a huge crowd of more than 100,000 had gathered in the Square and the adjoining streets to hear Cardinal Tauran say the words 'Habemus Papem."Speaking softly in Italian, Pope Francis said: “As you know cardinals were picking a bishop for Rome. It seems like my brother cardinals have picked him from the end of the world, but here we are.”
He then offered a prayer for Benedict XVI and asked the crowd to pray for him for a few moments in silence, before leading them in the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
Pope Francis then continued: “Let’s start this path, of brotherhood, love and faith among us. Let’s always pray for each other, and for the whole world, for it to have a great brotherhood. I wish that this path of the Church may be fruitful for the evangelisation. Before the blessing I ask you a favour: pray to God to pray for me.”
Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. His father, an immigrant from Italy, was a railway worker. He grew up with four siblings and originally planned to become a chemist, but eventually decided to become a priest and entered the Society of Jesus in 1958. He was ordained in 1969.
He spent almost his entire career in Argentina, teaching literature and philosophy in his early years and serving as the country’s Jesuit provincial in the 1970s.  He has always strongly upheld Catholic teaching on abortion and euthanasia. He has called adoption by gay parents a form of discrimination against children - a view which was criticised by Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchne.

He is a member of the Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ; Pontifical Council for the Family; Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
The election of Pope Francis means many 'firsts'. This is the first time a Pope has come from South America; the first time a Jesuit has been chosen, and he will be the first Pope Francis.
Pope Francis lives simply. When he became bishop he gave up his big residence and moved to a smaller place.  He cooks for himself and travels by bus.
He has always shown great concern for the poor and sick. “This is a man who goes into the shantytowns and cooks with the people," said Gerard O’Connell, CTV Vatican specialist. "I think the world is going to discover a very new style of being pope."
Source: Independent Catholic News  www.indcatholicnews.com

Prayer for Pope Francis
O almighty and eternal God, have mercy on your servant our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and direct him according to your clemency into the way of everlasting salvation; that he may desire by your grace those things that are agreeable to you, and perform them with all his strength.  

Through Christ our Lord.  


Pope Francis I - Inaugural Mass - 19th March 2013

"You know that the duty of the conclave was to provide Rome with a bishop. It looks as if my brothers, the Cardinals, went to fetch him at the end of the world." Those words, from his opening address to the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square, will accompany Pope Francis for the rest of his life. Only one hour had passed since his election and yet he was able to joke with the representatives ‘of every tribe and tongue and people and nation’ (Rev 5:9) assembled for the historic announcement, “Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus papam”. (I announce to you a great joy. We have a Pope.)

Several days later, on the Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary, at his installation on the steps of St Peter’s, he spelled out his papal manifesto: “In Joseph, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!”

As he noted in the same homily, the Holy Father has taken to heart the instructions of Jesus to Peter to “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep”. He is to become a ‘shepherd of the flock of God that is entrusted to him’ (1Pet.5:2). He is to be a protector in the images of St Joseph, of St Ignatius of Loyola and of St Francis of Assisi, but he does not see his role as that of an isolated figurehead.

His is a challenge to collaborative service: “Everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!”

The Pope went on to describe what he understands as the role and vocation of the protector: “The vocation of being a ‘protector’… means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world... It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness.”

Of course, the Pope could easily have said that, following the example of the three great saints, he sees himself as responsible to reach out to those who are, in the eyes of the world, the least important, the most vulnerable and those most in need of love, dignity and respect.

Saints Francis and Ignatius set the scene: in their care for those with leprosy, they turned to the rejected and marginalised people of their day, but they did not stop there. Francis and his followers were the first missionary Order in the history of the Church. Two centuries later, Ignatius followed his inspiration, but in a different manner. Francis was the contemplative, the dreamer, the troubadour. Ignatius, ever practical, down-to earth and organised, also saw ‘mission’ as readiness to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. For both Orders, their early mission stories are filled with drama, heroism, perseverance and total commitment. Franciscans and Jesuits both gave ‘not less than everything’.

The needs of today’s world are often very different from those of the 13th and 15th centuries. Most missionaries are able to use modern means of communication and transport to reach out to the people with and for whom they work. Yet whereas Pope Francis used 21st century words in his inauguration homily, he only echoed the earlier insights of St Francis, St Ignatius and the more hidden vocation of St Joseph: “Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers… it is a hope built on the rock which is God.”

Missio is the Pope’s mission charity, just as it has been for his predecessors. Its outreach to missionaries and the overseas local Church of the poor will continue for as long as there are people in need.

Mgr Canon James Cronin, National Director of Missio in England and Wales, offers his congratulations and prayers to Pope Francis on behalf of the many thousands of the charity’s supporters in the two countries. “The Holy Father challenges us to follow him as he steps out on a new path. His role as shepherd has moved far beyond the borders of Argentina and now embraces the whole world. Missio will do whatever it can to help him feed the lambs and sheep in his care, not only physically, but also spiritually, caring for people’s practical needs, but also caring for their souls. May God bless and protect our new Pope Francis, guiding him in all that he will undertake on behalf of the People of God.”

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