According to Reuters, the Vatican has already had several surprised from Pope Francis in his first 24 hours as pope being the first non-European in 1,300 years as well as breaking more rules than his predecessor did in eight years. With the idea of an unpredictable papacy, an age old institution that usually does everything by the book, Father Tom Rosica a Canadian priest who runs a Catholic television station has this to say: “We are going to have to get used to a new way of doing things.” There is indeed a feeling of change coming to the Vatican as Pope Francis demonstrated in his first words as pope. Instead of starting out with the traditional “Praised by Jesus Christ” or “Dear brothers and sisters”, he chose a rather ordinary start with “Buona Sera” in Italian to address the crowds in St. Peters Square. “I was stunned by what happened last night. I didn’t expect a pontificate to begin with ‘Buona Sera,'” Rosica said. Ont he morning after the election, the Varican tried to accomadate the needs of the new style papacy as Father Fedrico Lombardi, chief Vatican spokesman, explains to reporters about what to expect: “We have to have patience, we are starting something new. There are a lot of things we don’t know yet.” Before stepping out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Bascilica, Franscis decided instead of sitting in a throne like chair in the Sistine Chapel for the obedience pledge that he would come down to the cardinals and stand as they greeted him. He then an hour later decided not to take the limo waiting to take him to the Vatican residence for a meal as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York explains, “And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off? It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver ‘That’s OK, I’ll just go with the boys.'” The only difference between him and the cardinals now is he no longer wears the red robe but white. On Thursday morning the unorthodox papal behavior continued when Francis insisted on paying the hotel bill at the Church-run residences where the cardinals stayed for the conclave. A Vatican spokeman explained in a news briefing that: “He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there. He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room … because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.” Jorge Bergoglio certainly brought his reputation for frugality from his native Argentina and is the first pope to take the name St. Francis of Assisi a man who preached the virtue of living in poverty as a gesture of solidarity with the poor. Lombardi said he expects the pope to visit Argentina eventually and will attend World Youth Day in Brazil in July, a Catholic festival that takes place every two years in a different city. And what of Vatican security and their duties to the unpredictable pope? Lomardi could only respond with: “That’s a good question. Vatican security are at the service of the pope and will have to adapt themselves to the pastoral style that the pope will use. A pope’s personal style has to be respected.”
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio a native of Buenos Aires, has taken the name of Pope Francis as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. On Wednesday, in his first public appearance after the papal election, on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica appeared the new pope Francisco in his white cassock to address the crowds more than an hour after the white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 2:05 EDT (7:05 p.m. CET). Speaking from the balcony, the pope gave his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the “City of the World”) to the crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square as the crowed cheered, cried, and waved for the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics. He prayed for the church, the papacy, and for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Before he prayed for the crowd and church, he asked that the crowd bless him. Francis, a Jesuit priest was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings and five ballots cast. Francis will be installed in the coming days, even though his papacy will be effectively immediately, but it’s not clear when the installation will happen as Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi announced on Wednesday that Tuesday March 19 the feast of St. Joseph would be a possible date. Lombardi said this before the white smoke later in the evening as he also said that the new pope will likely celebrate Mass with cardinals the morning after this election. The date of the installation will begin with a visit with cardinals to the grottos of St. Peter’s Basilica where the first pope St. Peter is said to be buried. There he will say,”I leave from where the apostle arrived” before proceeding to the square for the installation Mass where Francis will receive the Fisherman’s Ring made for his papacy as well as the pallium, a woolen stole to symbolize his authority. When Benedict was elected, 12 church representatives knelt in front of him at the installations including three cardinals, one bishop, a priest, deacon, married couple, a nun, and man from a religious order as well as two young people who had their conformation which will likely appear again at the papal installation of Francis as a symbolic pledge of obedience. After the mass, the pope will be driven around St. Peter’s Square to greet the people from around the world and in the following days will visit the three main Roman basilicas aside from St. Peter’s: St Paul’s, St. John Lateran’s, St. Mary Major’s with the first visit St. Paul’s which is right outside the Vatican walls. The first few weeks, Francis will live in a temporary apartment away from the official papal residence while it is being renovated as the apartment was sealed after Benedict’s resignation and church rules say it cannot be reopens until a new pope is elected.
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.
On Wednesday afternoon, White smoke appeared from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:05 p.m. CET (2:05 p.m. EDT / 11:05 a.m. PDT) after five rounds of voting indicating that the pope elected has accepted the position. According to Catholic tradition, the newly appointed Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics in the worldwide church. In 2005, Benedict XVI was elected on the second day after four rounds of voting. The 115 catholic cardinals who voted in this papal election have elected the new pope with at least 77 votes. After the smoke emerged from the chimney, the big bell of St. Peter’s Basilica could be heard faintly in the background as the crowd at St. Peter’s Square cheered at the moment the bells began to ring signaling the election of a new pope. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will appear in a matter of minutes to shout from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) proceeded by the presentation of the new pope in his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Benedict, who did not participate in the election due to health reasons, is the first pope to step down in 600 years, however he was able to in his eight years to solidify the church’s message on the core Catholic values such as opposition to gay marriage and abortion and saw gains in membership in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. On the other hand, his departure is at a time when the church has lost membership in Europe and the United States, is dealing with financial mismanagement of church assets and overcoming the tide of molestation accusations. Fortunately, the mood of the faithful in front of St.Peter’s Basilica was excitement and anticipation following the news. The first vote happened on Tuesday and two morning votes on Wednesday all had similar results with black smoke emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney that ended with no pope.
With a thick puff of black smoke from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, day one of the conclave on Tuesday ends with no conclusive first vote in the conclave to elect a new pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church really need a leader. The smoke came at 2:41 p.m. U.S. Eastern time leaving the church’s 115 cardinals to meet Wednesday morning to vote for the second day to elect a pope needing at least 77 votes to elect a new pope. There will be up to four votes per day until a pope is elected. If a new pope is elected, white smoke will be released from the Sistine Chapel at 5:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Italy), 7 a.m., 12:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. and if no pope is elected then black smoke will rise from the chapel at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Times may vary and times are estimated based on previous elections and predictions. The new pope must accept the position before the white smoke is released and as promised if the smoke is released at night then the Sistine Chapel chimney will be lit for onlookers to see the smoke as it was on Tuesday. Of course, as stipulated, if no pope is elected by Friday then the cardinals will pause Saturday for reflection and prayers thus continuing the voting pattern until 34th voting round which will lead to a runoff between top candidates. Once the white smoke is released, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will ring as in 2005 and the senior cardinal deacon, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, will stand on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica shouting “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) then present the new pope with his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Thousands watched in St. Peter’s Square as the black smoke poured out of the narrow flue in the rain following a day rich in ritual and pageantry.
After prayer for divine guidance, the cardinals took an oath in Latin to never divulge any details of their deliberation before they secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors. No conclave in modern times has elected a pope the first day and some cardinals believe it could take four or five days to pick a man to replace the recently retired Pope Benedict. The “Princes of the Church” will spend the night in a Vatican hotel then begin day two of voting in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday with two rounds of voting one in the morning and two in the afternoon. Voting will continue until a new pontiff is appointed and communication with the outside world will be smoke from the Chapel chimney indicated by black smoke when the voting sessions end with no result and white smoke when a pontiff is elected. Whom ever becomes the 266th pontiff of the Catholic church in its 2,000 year history will face several challenges including sex abuse scandals, infighting within the Vatican bureaucracy and the secularism in its European heartland and beyond. No clear cut contenders have emerged since some want a stronger manager to control the Curia and others calling for a powerful pastor to promote faith around the world. The doors of the Sistine Chapel were closed at 5:34 p.m. after the master of ceremonies, Guido Marini, said “Extra Omnes” or “Everyone Out” asking those no associate with the gathering to leave the room except Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech, an 87 year old who is too old to participate in the vote, who gave a sermon to remind the 115 cardinal electors of their responsibility.
The faithful gathered in Rome in hopes that a new leader would bring change after a difficult eight year reign by Pope Benedict. As Maria Dasdores Paz, a Brazilian nun who attended the Mass explains to Reuters that the new pope “must be a great pastor with a big heart, and also have the capacity to confront the Church’s problems, which are very great…Every day there seem to be more.” All of the prelates in the Sistine Chapel were appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II and the next pope will certainly defend the traditional moral teachings of the church, but many point out the failures of Benedict and Paul to reform the Curia leaving many feeling that the next pope must be a good chief executive or have good management put in place under him. Several papal candidate have been discussed including Italian and non-Italian prelates with growing pressure to choose a pontiff from somewhere else in the world since only 24 percent of Catholics live in Europe. Only time will tell if the next pope will live up to the position or falter in one respect or another as popes before him have.
On Tuesday, March 12 the conclave to elect the next pope after Benedict began this morning, but before the voting could begin the 115 cardinals took an oath of secrecy in the Sistine Chapel. The oath was administer by the conclave’s presiding cardinal, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, which after reading the oath each cardinal elector touched the Holy Gospels and made a “promise, pledge, and swear” to uphold the oath. Here is the full text of the oath as provided by the Associated Press:
“We, the Cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, pledge and swear, as individuals and as a group, to observe faithfully and scrupulously the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, published on 22 February 1996.
We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See.
In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff.”