18 March 2013, 20:53

Pope Francis chooses motto and seal

Pope Francis chooses motto and seal

Pope Francis will retain his episcopal seal and motto after the enthronement ceremony, the Vatican said Monday. The Pontiff’s motto "Miserando Atque Eligendo", (Because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him) is taken from a homily by the Venerable Bede.

The emblem of the Jesuit order, to which Pope Francis belongs, will now be complemented with the papal tiara with crossed keys to Rome and Heavens, that symbolize his pontifical office.

The new Pope also wants to make the traditional papal regalia, Ring of the Fisherman, of gold-plated silver, not gold.

Argentine leader asks pope to intervene in Falklands row

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said Monday that she had asked her compatriot Pope Francis to intervene in the row between their country and Britain over the Falkland Islands.

"I asked his intervention to promote dialogue between the two sides," Kirchner told a news conference after meeting Francis ahead of his inaugural mass on Tuesday, noting that Pope John Paul II had mediated in a similar conflict between Argentina and Chile.

Mugabe arrives in Rome for Pope Francis's inauguration 

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe flew into Rome on Monday to attend Pope Francis's inauguration, sidestepping a travel ban that applies to the EU but not to the sovereign Vatican City state.

Mugabe arrived amid controversy in Zimbabwe where police on Sunday arrested four of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's aides and a prominent human rights lawyer following a referendum that would curtail Mugabe's powers.

A practising Catholic, the 89-year-old Mugabe visited the Vatican previously in 2011 for the beatification of late pope John Paul II.

In 2005, he attended John Paul II's funeral on a visit that drew controversy after Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him.

Pope Francis's inauguration mass in St Peter's Square will take place on Tuesday, with hundreds of thousands of faithful and world leaders expected.

Mugabe has been widely condemned for human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Preliminary results indicate the referendum has been approved, paving the way for fresh elections to decide whether Mugabe will stay on.

The new constitution would introduce presidential term limits and beef up parliament's powers but could allow Mugabe to stay on for another decade if he wins elections.

Mugabe has ruled uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1980, despite a series of disputed and violent polls and a severe economic crash propelled by hyper-inflation.

Rome ahead of Pope Francis's inauguration 

Milena Faustova

Rome is bating its breath ahead of the inauguration of Pope Francis, which is due to take place on March 19th . Last week Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the next pope by the Conclave of cardinals after two days of deliberations.

Slogans like Long live Pope Francis! and Welcome to Rome, Cardinal Bergoglio! have become a familiar sight on the streets of Rome these days. St.Peter’s Square in the Vatican are teeming with pilgrims of every caliber who are praying, singing newly composed songs about the new pontiff, dancing with joy and sharing their experiences. Cardinal Bergoglio, whose name was practically unknown until recently, has become a much adored Catholic icon in a matter of days.

Italian monk Massimo Coppo covered several hundred kilometers barefoot from the area where he lives to Rome in order to join the jubilant crowds. He says the new pontiff named himself Francis in honor of Francis of Assisi, who helped the poor.

"Hopefully, the new pontiff, who advocates for the poor, will attend to their needs. Many Catholics prayed for this. I’m sure that the church will change during Pope Francis’s reign."

The new pontiff has stunned the public with his ways – he shuns travelling by car giving preference to walking, doesn’t wear the red shoes and cape prescribed to him by the canons, talks to ordinary people in the street and after celebrating his first Sunday homily he wishes people a good midday meal. He was seen kissing the cardinals’ hands during a meeting with clergymen, and he was reported patting a dog that accompanied a blind correspondent during a meeting with reporters. Even the most outspoken critics are impressed, says journalist James Ball.

"All journalists attending a papal audience for the media were moved by the pontiff’s story about why he chose to be called Francis. In addition, we were all shocked to see him start at the sight of such a crowded hall. Even though it’s too early to judge what Francis’s papacy is going to be like, many pin their hopes on him and expect him to introduce changes."

Much as they deem him an icon of humbleness, Pope Francis is far from simple. He stands firm for the interests of the church and can handle the challenges of the day. A resident of Argentina, Alisia Vatrios, presented herself as “a friend of Pope Francis”.

"For years I’ve known Pope Francis as a modest, unpretentious person, who can easily strike a compromise. He has fought against drug trafficking, spoken against injustice and exerted every effort to make this world a better place. I remember him ever since his first Mass at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires. As for me, it’s a bliss that he was elected as the next pontiff."

Delegations from 180 countries, including Russia, will attend Pope Francis’s inauguration ceremony on Tuesday. Russia will be represented by State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, who presides in the Department of External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate. It’s for the first time that Cardinal Bergoglio will meet with an Orthodox hierarch. Metropolitan Hilarion will be able to form a clear picture of the new head of the Roman Catholic Church during a papal audience for representatives of the Christian denominations on March 20th. 


Pope Francis in humility, compassion call

Pope Francis has urged the Church and its faithful to exercise humility and compassion.

He spoke about this Sunday after celebrating mass in the Vatican’s Church of St Anne and during his first public address as Pontiff delivered from the window of his Vatican a study. His audience consisted of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square.

The new Pope is yet to occupy the papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. His coat of arms is yet to be unveiled.

Pope Francis sends 1st tweet as @Pontifex

'Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. Pope Francis.'

Delegations from 180 countries to attend Pope's enthronement

Top-level delegations from 180 countries will attend the enthronement of Pope Francis I, scheduled to take place on March 19 at the Vatican.

The ceremony is to be attended by Royals from Britain, Spain and Belgium.

The U.S. will be represented by Vice-President Joe Biden, Argentina - by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Brazil - by head of state Dilma Rusef.

The Russian delegation at the inauguration of the new Pope will be headed by State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

Pope Francis: all Vatican senior administrators will remain in their posts for now

Pope Francis said Saturday that he's decided that the heads of the various Vatican offices will keep their jobs for now, but he's not making any definitive appointments.

Francis wants "a certain period for reflection, prayer and dialogue before [making] any definitive nomination or confirmation," the Vatican statement said.

The official Mass to inaugurate Francis as the bishop of Rome - and leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics - takes place Tuesday.

More than 150 foreign delegations are expected to attend the ceremony, among them and headed by is the Russian State Duma spokesperson Sergei Naryshkin and US Vice President Joe Biden.

On March 20 Pope Francis will meet with the representatives of other Christian churches. Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church are among them.

'I would like a poor Church, and for the poor' - Pope Francis

Pope Francis, giving his clearest indication yet that he wants a more austere Catholic Church, said on Saturday that it should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor. Francis, speaking mostly off-the-cuff and smiling often, made his comments in an audience for journalists where he explained why he chose to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.

He called Francis "the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man", and added: "Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor."

Since his election on Wednesday as the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signaled a sharp change of style from his predecessor, Benedict, and has laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

He thanked the thousands of journalists who had covered his election but invited them to "always try to better understand the true nature of the Church, and even its journey in the world, with its virtues and with its sins".

He urged journalists to seek "truth, goodness and beauty" in the world and in the Church.

Francis has set a forceful moral tone and given clear signs already that he will bring a new broom to the crisis-hit papacy, favoring humility and simplicity over pomp and grandeur.

He recalled how on Wednesday night, as he was receiving more and more votes in the conclave, the cardinal sitting next to him, Claudio Hummes of Brazil, comforted him "as the situation became dangerous".

After the voting reached the two-thirds majority that elected him, applause broke out. Hummes, 78, then hugged and kissed him and told him "Don't forget the poor", the pope recounted, often gesturing with his hands.

"That word entered here," he added, pointing to his head.

While the formal voting continued, the pope recalled: "I thought of wars .... and Francis (of Assisi) is the man of peace, and that is how the name entered my heart, Francis of Assisi, for me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects others."

It was the latest indication that the pope wanted the worldwide Church to take on an austere style.

On the night he was elected he shunned the papal limousine and travelled on a bus with other cardinals. He went to the Church-run hotel where he had been staying before the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, has also urged Argentines not to make costly trips to Rome to see him but to give the money to the poor instead.

Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS, AFP, Reuters

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