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Pope Francis from Argentina is first Jesuit, first from Americas
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said that while the College of Cardinals didn’t consciously look to geography, it was a sign about the church’s future.
“Where he comes from is gravy,” he said, while noting that “you talk about a booster shot for the church in the Americas “
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis will follow tradition and celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the cardinals on Thursday, his first full day as pope, and plans to pray at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.
On Sunday, he will address the throngs in St. Peter’s Square, which has gone without a papal address for two consecutive Sundays since Benedict XVI resigned Feb. 28, citing health concerns.
Francis’ papal installation Mass is set for Tuesday, the feast day of St. Joseph, Father Lombardi said, adding that nearly 200 foreign delegations are expected to attend. The U.S. delegation will be led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is Catholic.
World leaders on Wednesday issued congratulations to the new pontiff as Catholics around the world celebrated.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he looks forward to working with the Holy See under Francis’ “wise leadership,” while European Union leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso wished the new church leader “a long and blessed pontificate.”
In Europe, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also issued statements of congratulations.
President Obama also offered warm wishes to Francis, saying the selection speaks to the strength and vitality of the New World.
“I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis,” Mr. Obama said. “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 2,000 years.”
Cardinal Bergoglio was originally trained as a chemist.
Even though he is the son of an Italian railway worker and speaks fluent Italian, Spanish and German, his choice was recognition that the future of the church lies outside of Europe with its growing secularism, infighting within the Vatican bureaucracy, and a string of sex and financial scandals.
Church researchers say that Pope Francis has his work cut out for him — unlike Benedict, he will have to concentrate on administration rather than administering to spirituality. And he will have to take on an entrenched and divided bureaucracy dominated by Italians.
“The new pope has to address the power of the Curia [Vatican bureaucracy] and confront the scandals,” said the Rev. Alistair Sear, a Rome-based church historian. “He has to rein in the extreme elements of the church.”
Cardinal Bergoglio was a surprise choice. Even so, he was elected relatively quickly, receiving the necessary 77 votes on the fifth ballot on just the second day of the conclave.
By Brahma Chellaney
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