13 March 2013, 23:53

Newly elected Catholic Church Pope Francis opposes same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia (VIDEO)

Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; December 17, 1936) is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, elected on March 13, 2013. He chose his regnal name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. He is the first Pope born in the Americas.

Prior to his election, he served as an Argentine cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He has served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.

Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, one of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he entered the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1958. Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, and then taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Santa Fe, and the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, a seminary in San Miguel. Bergoglio attained the position of novice master there and became professor of theology.

Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted Bergoglio and he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He was transferred in 1980 to become the rector of the seminary in San Miguel where he had studied. He served in that capacity until 1986. He completed his doctoral dissertation in Germany and returned to his homeland to serve as confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba.

Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Quarracino on February 28, 1998. He was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own prelate. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named archbishop to the consistory of February 21, 2001 in Vatican City and elevated Bergoglio with the papal honors of a cardinal. He was named to the Cardinal-Priest of Saint Robert Bellarmino.

As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American and the Family Council.

As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. He lives in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop's residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.

Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio, considered papabile himself, participated in the 2005 papal conclave as a cardinal elector, the conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. A widespread theory says that he was in a close race with Ratzinger until he emotionally asked that the cardinals not vote for him. Earlier, he had participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum sede vacante period.

During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he was elected a member of the Post-Synodal council. Catholic journalist John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. An unauthorized diary of uncertain authenticity released in September 2005 confirmed that Bergogolio was the runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave. The purported diary of the anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot.

On November 8, 2005, Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–2008) by a large majority of the Argentine bishops, which according to reports confirms his local leadership and the international prestige earned by his alleged performance in the conclave. He was reelected on November 11, 2008.

Cardinal Bergoglio has invited his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.

He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are homosexual. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: "Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God." He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church's tone was reminiscent of "medieval times and the Inquisition."

Habemus Papam! Roman Catholic Church has new Pope

Milena Faustova

The 266th Pontiff of Rome is 76-year old Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He was elected after five ballots at the end of the second day of the Conclave meetings. In order to ascend the Papal throne a newly-elected head of the Catholic church requires at least 77 votes out of 115 – that was the number of voting cardinals, all under the age of 80. In the history of the Catholic Church this is the first Pope from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe.

White smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace and bell chimes announced to the world that a new pontiff had been elected. St.Peter’s Square in the Vatican, resonating with the excited voices of dozens of thousands of pilgrims and non-believers who had converged on Rome to witness the momentous occasion for the catholic world, erupted in a chorus of joyous exclamations: "Long Live the Pope! Long Live the Pope!" The flags of different countries could be seen unfurled above the milling crowd… A short while later, Cardinal-Archdeacon Jean-Louis Tauran appeared on the balcony to solemnly announce: "Habemus papam!" a Latin phrase meaning "We have a Pope." The newly-elected Pontiff has chosen the name of Francis. As soon as Pope Francis appeared on the balcony, he pronounced his first "Urbi et Orbi" - an address and Apostolic Blessing to the City of Rome, and to the world.

"The Conclave was to give the world a new Pope, and the cardinals seem to have done everything in their powers. And here I am. But above all, I would like to pray for Pope Benedict XVI. May the Holy Virgin watch over him and protect him. I would also ask you all to pray to Our Lord for me, so that our journey together be one of fraternity, love and trust."

The election of Cardinal Bergoglio was most unexpected, confessed art critic and Vatican expert Yekaterina Santoni-Sinitsyna in an interview for the Voice of Russia.

"When white smoke above the Sistine Chapel appeared, everyone thought the new Pope would be either Cardinal Bertone, or Cardinal Scola – Archbishop of Milan. So it was a tremendous surprise for us all. However, in 2005 it was Cardinal Bergoglio who was the main rival in the election of Benedict XVI. This is a highly educated man, born in Argentine, but with Italian heritage. He was the youngest of five children, majored in chemistry and in 1969 was ordained a priest. He graduated from the seminary, and became a cardinal in February 2001. We are happy that he was the one elected; he certainly produces a most favorable impression. And in another important detail: he chose the name Francis. In the history of the pontificate this is the first case when a secular name is chosen. The name of Francis was not always well received by the Roman Catholic Church. Mostly chosen were names of monarchs. The newly elected Pope is a Jesuit. In the history of the Roman Catholic Church there were four Franciscan Popes. The current one is Jesuit. And when a Jesuit chooses a Franciscan name, I believe that is a good sign. Most likely the Church is in for a period of reforms."

Jesuit Jorje Mario Bergoglio is known as a skilled theologian and a moderate conservative, strongly opposing abortions and euthanasia, a staunch opponent of gay marriage, frequently voiced support for programs in aid of the impoverished, and publicly expressed doubts about the justification of free market policies. Apparently, the Vatican deemed the Church required just such a pontiff today, since the new Pope will be facing a number of urgent problems requiring solution.

Prior to the election of the new Pontiff, vaticanists claimed the new Pope would ascend the throne of St.Peter at a difficult time for the Church. Numerous scandals that have relentlessly pursued the Vatican of late, and numerous outstanding issues were not resolved by the previous pontiff – Benedict XVI, who stepped down on February 28. Evil tongues even went as far as to claim these issues were the main reason for the resignation of Cardinal Ratzinger. This was also the case of the notorious "Vatileaks," investigation into which the retired Benedict XVI chose not to make public, passing it on to the new pontiff, as well as the problem of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, and dwindling numbers of churchgoers. Another issue the new Pope will have to tackle is the strengthening positions of Islam in the EU countries, and the need to staunchly defend the traditional Christian values in the contemporary world.

Francis I might be the last Pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church – interview

Yulia Zamanskaya

As the world greets the new Pope, one cannot help but wonder about the overall socio-political influence that he will have in the modern world where, for many, faith in God was substituted by belief in technological innovation and scientific progress. Richard Lester from the Dutch Leiden Institute shares his thoughts about the challenges that the newly elected Pope will face, the grim future of the Roman Catholic Church and the looming possibility that the next Pope might in fact be the last one if he is unable to overcome the problems that the Vatican is currently facing.

Let us begin with a more general question. How would you describe the current state of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution? Does it still have a significant influence on people's lives all over the globe?

Richard Lester: In my opinion, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and its "holier than thou" dictum seems to be on significant decline. For many, the relevance of the church, both for their personal and their public lives, is a thing of the past. In many parts of the world, including Europe and the Americas, the number of loyal Catholics is rapidly decreasing. In Poland, which has long been known as "the most Catholic country in Europe," people have stopped attending the Mass on the regular basis. In France, Denmark, and Germany churches are being auctioned off including confessionals and furniture due to the constantly decreasing number of churchgoers. Rather ironically, many of these churches are subsequently turned into mosques.

From one perspective, this is a rather natural development of the events. In the modern world we have less and less time even for spiritual reflection let alone going to the Mass. From another, however, the fact that more people leave the Catholic Church is a clear sign of a deficiency within the institution. As the clergy is becoming stronger and more corrupt, the number of suicides committed by Catholic priests is increasing, and the Vatican is becoming richer by the minute, the congregation begins to question the credibility of the institution. As a result, the Church's influence on people's lives is decreasing. Recall the Portuguese bill that allowed homosexual couples to wed three days after Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up his official 'anti-gay marriage' visit to the country in May 2010. To me, the event was particularly emblematic of the diminishing influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Once a mighty force on its home continent, in modern Europe the Church is becoming weaker. Its influence is ebbing and its privileged status is called into question more frequently.

Do you think that last year's child-abuse scandal that involved Catholic priests contributed to the current status of the Roman Catholic Church? It was frequently reported that in the aftermath of the incident many believers all over the world lost their faith in Church and no longer felt comfortable to communicate with the priests during confession.

Richard Lester: The child-abuse scandal is a very sensitive issue. On the one hand, any true believer would tell you that the sin of a very small number of priests cannot and must not shatter one's belief in God. After all, we are all fallen creatures. In this sense, the scandal should not have had a profound effect on the status of the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand, however, and this is my personal opinion, the priests represent the Church as an institution and their behavior does effect the status of the Roman Catholic Church in a broader sense. In this respect, the scandal has done an immense damage to the institution's reputation. It stroke at the very core of of the Church's structure: the deference of the laity and the authority of priesthood. In essence, it has stripped the Roman Catholic Church of much of its credibility and moral authority.

A recent study by two US professors has indicated that only one seventh of those who sought to convert to Catholicism before the scandal proceeded with conversion after the incident became public. The child-abuse scandal was also found to be the top reason why people all over the world leave the Catholic Church. Millions of dollars are currently being invested into a campaign that invites former Catholics to "come home to church". Those who left the Catholic Church mostly converted to Protestant Christian congregations, finding more spiritual solace in a religion that is perceived to be more able to minister its own priests and is much less implicated in politics and scandals of various sorts more generally.

What can be done to restore people's confidence in the Roman Catholic Church? Indeed, what, if anything, can the new pope do to reverse the trend of global disenchantment with the institution?

Richard Lester: While I do not want to sound overly pessimistic, I must say that there are very few things that can be done to 're-enchant' the congregation. While various scandals surrounding the Roman Catholic Church hardly add to its popularity, one of the main challenges that it currently faces is the overall end of deference. In other words, the institution's authority in moral guidance is gradually imploding. The vast majority of Catholics under the age of 60 no longer expect the priests, or even the Pope, to give them moral instruction. One of the main reasons for such deference is the Church's inability to adapt to modernity. More than 75 percent of European Catholics believe that the Church is quite literally 'out of touch' with the reality. Reflecting enormous weight of tradition, the Roman Catholic Church maintains an essentially medieval structure and outlook which is drastically at odds with contemporary culture. In order to restore its influence Vatican has to modernize. Crucially, when I say 'modernize' I do not suggest that the Church should immediately and full-heartedly embrace gay marriage, encourage abortion, or to broadcast the Papal Conclave live on Youtube. Instead, what I mean is that the Vatican can at least try to discussrather than simply denounce such 'prohibited' issues as contraception, homosexuality, and the remarriage of divorced people. In a similar manner, the Vatican should use the modern technology more actively to communicate its message across the globe.

If Francis  is able to reform the Vatican II in such a way, he will be glorious. If he fails, he might be the last 'real' Pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Essentially, if the reform does not come within a decade, the Pope of 2020s-2030s will become the next Queen Elizabeth II - he will continue to dress in robes and live in a 'palace' but his reign will be largely nominal.

White smoke rises from Sistine Chapel, signaling Roman Catholic cardinals have elected new Pope

To the cheering of crowds white smoke has appeared above the Vatican chimney, signaling a new Pope has been chosen by cardinals.


23:08 The lights at the Vatican balcony where the new pope will emerge has been turned on possibly to signal the announcement.

23:00 All eyes are now on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica, where cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will appear to announce who is the new pope any minute now.

22:47 The esplanade in front of the basilica is filling up with the forces in charge of defending the Vatican ahead of the announcement. The Italian national anthem is sung by a large part of the crowd -- many are hopeful of an Italian pope and Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, is among the favourites.

22:44 "Juan Pablo III" is trending on Twitter right now as a proposed name for the new pope. Many are saying they would like the new pope to be named for Benedict's highly popular predecessor John Paul II.

22:39 When the name of the new pope is announced, it will be his papal moniker which is revealed to the crowd rather than his baptismal name. According to Irish bookmakers Paddy Power, the best odds are that the new pope will call himself Leo - which means lion - while the fifth best odds are for Peter.

22:32 The new pope's nationality may not yet be known, but flags from all over the world are being waved by the faithful at St Peter's in support of their favoured candidates. Russia, the US, Italy, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil are all represented. Adding to the carnival-like atmosphere, bells are being rung in churches right across Rome and car horns are being sounded in the streets in celebration.

22:29 Worth noting that the cardinals have reached their decision after just over 24 hours of the conclave -- does this mean it is more likely that the 115 electing cardinals have gone for one of the favourites?

22:26 So who will be the new pontiff? That has not been made public yet, but the favourites include Brazil's Odilo Scherer, Canada's Marc Ouellet and Italy's Angelo Scola. They are all seen as conservatives similar to Benedict XVI in outlook.

22:23 The atmosphere at St Peter's Square, where thousands of people had clustered in the rain awaiting a puff of white smoke, is like a stadium. The faithful are clapping, waving flags in colours of the Holy See (white and gold).

Photo: AFP

22:20 Some of the excited faithful who have been waiting in the rain at the Vatican are shouting out "Habemus papam!" in excitement. That of course is a reference to the announcement which will be made in about half an hour of the new pope's identity by French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus papam! (I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope!)," Tauran will say, before announcing the name of the elected cardinal and the papal title the new pontiff has chosen.

As the white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel, the bells of St. Peter Basilica tolled out 'Habemus papem," meaning the Catholic Church now has a new Pope.

Cardinal electors held a full day of deliberations on Wednesday although at the morning session released black smoke up the chimney, signalling that no decision had been made.

White smoke was released up the chimney after five rounds of voting meaning that a two-thirds majority had been reached and that one candidate received at least 77 votes.

Photo: AFP

Crowds outside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome cheered and waved flags from many different nations. Some waved crucifixes while others held banners reading "long live the Pope."

The new Pope is expected to be named shortly from the central balcony of the Basilica.

Before the conclave began there was no clear frontrunner to replace Benedict XVI. But some of the possibilities include Brazillian Odilo Scherer, who would be the first non-European Pope since Gregory the thrird of Syria, nearly 1,300 years ago.

Pope Benedict XVI stepped down last month citing citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age.

Pope Benedict was the first Pope to resign in 600 years, amid revelations of corruption, petty infighting and mismanagement in the Catholic Church.

The allegations split the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Pope, or Holly See's governance and those who defended the status quo.

Voice of Russia, RT, AFP, Reuters, Wikipedia

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