Pope prays at Rome Basilica in 1st outing

2013-03-14 11:28

Vatican City - Pope Francis opened his first morning as pontiff by praying on Thursday at Rome's main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a day after cardinals elected him the first pope from the Americas in a bid to revive a Catholic Church in crisis and give it a preacher with a humble touch.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, entered the St Mary Major basilica through a side entrance just after 08:00 (07:00 GMT) and left about 30 minutes later.

He had told a crowd of some 100 000 people packed in a rain-soaked St Peter's Square just after his election that he intended to pray on Friday to the Madonna "that she may watch over all of Rome".

He told cardinals he would also call on retired Pope Benedict XVI on Friday and celebrate an inaugural Mass in the Sistine Chapel, where cardinals on Wednesday elected him leader of the 1.2 million-strong church in an unusually quick conclave.

Francis, the first Jesuit pope and first non-European since the Middle Ages, decided to call himself Francis after St Francis of Assisi, the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor.

Charmed the crowd

The new pope immediately charmed the crowd in St Peter's that roared when his name was announced.

Waving shyly, he told said the cardinals' job was to find a bishop of Rome. "It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth, but here we are. Thank you for the welcome."

The 76-year-old Bergoglio, said to have finished second when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, was chosen on just the fifth ballot to replace the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.

In the past century, only Benedict, John Paul I in 1978 and Pius XII in 1939 were elected faster.

Francis spoke by phone with Benedict, who has been living at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo, and was to visit him on Friday, according to US Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The visit is significant because Benedict's resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one.

Benedict's longtime aide, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, accompanied Francis to the visit at St Mary Major, the ANSA news agency reported. In addition to being Benedict's secretary, Gaenswein is also the prefect of the papal household and will be arranging the new pope's schedule.


Francis' election elated Latin Americans, who number 40% of the world's Catholics but have long been underrepresented in the church leadership. On Wednesday, drivers honked their horns in the streets of Buenos Aires and television announcers screamed with elation at the news.

"It's a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait," said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar at the St Francis of Assisi church in the colonial Old San Juan district in Puerto Rico. "Everyone from Canada down to Patagonia is going to feel blessed."

The new pontiff brings a common touch. The son of middle-class Italian immigrants, he denied himself the luxuries that previous cardinals in Buenos Aires enjoyed. He lived in a simple apartment, often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited slums that ring Argentina's capital.

'Champion of poor'

He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

"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 - that in each other, we see the face of God," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

As the 266th pope, Francis inherits a Catholic church in turmoil, beset by the clerical sex abuse scandal, internal divisions and dwindling numbers in parts of the world where Christianity had been strong for centuries.

While Latin America still boasts the largest bloc of Catholics on a single continent, it has faced competition from aggressive evangelical churches that have chipped away at strongholds like Brazil, where the number of Catholics has dropped from 74% of the population in 2000 to 65% today.

Francis is sure to bring the church closer to the poverty-wracked region, while also introducing the world to a very different type of pope, whose first words were a simple, "Brothers and sisters, good evening".

He asked for prayers for himself, and for Benedict, whose stunning resignation paved the way for his election.

"I want you to bless me," Francis said in his first appearance from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica, asking the faithful to bow their heads in silent prayer.

  • dane.herbst.5 - 2013-03-14 11:49

    "Through some crack or other in the Temple of God, the smoke of Satan has entered" - Pope Paul VI, 1972

  • Jennifer du Toit - 2013-03-14 12:39

    Son of an Italian immigrant??? so much for voting outside the box (europe) no chance ever for an African pontiff!!!! hope he lives up to the name he has chosen Francis the patron saint of ANIMALS!!!Francies of Assisi

      bunny.follocks - 2013-03-14 13:08

      Not having an African Pope is THEIR loss, not Africa's

      bunny.follocks - 2013-03-14 13:08

      Not having an African Pope is THEIR loss, not Africa's

      bunny.follocks - 2013-03-14 13:08

      Not having an African Pope is THEIR loss, not Africa's

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 14:25

      Does it matter where the Pope comes from? Whoever God chooses is who it should be, he doesn't make mistakes. Very political and superficial outlook. Trust in God to choose the right person, even if they came from Aus! Yeah, would have been interesting, but as stated above, its not our choice who leads the church of Christ but it is the holy Spirit that works through the cardinals and elects the pope, not The cardinals out of political ambition or personal gain.

  • IWANTTO - 2013-03-14 12:46

    Enough with the pope jokes already,ok let me take one last prick,sorry I mean stab at it. Hi is called Francis, the first Jesuit pope and first non-European since the Middle Ages, decided to call himself Francis after St Francis of Assisi, the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor,but still no compassion for homosexuals...go figure!

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 13:57

      St Francis is a sissy....LOLOLOL

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 13:57

      St Francis is a sissy....LOLOLOL

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 13:57

      St Francis is a sissy....LOLOLOL

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 14:36

      Hi There IWANTTO, The Church has compassion for Homosexuals, the church has nothing against them. What the Church does not condone are their acts of homosexuality as it goes against the teachings of Christ and will always go against it (we are to serve God, not God serve us). Just because you are gay, it doesn't mean you're a bad person, it just means that in that aspect of your life you are disobedient to God and his Law. So if you are expecting for the church to marry gays, approve of gay lifestyles etc. then you will be waiting for all eternity. (Marriage is a religious sacrament btw, hence the RCC and any respectable christian denomination will not marry gays, though a RCC Priest will explain why and gay people who have experienced that have had more appreciation for the church)

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 14:59

      But Riaan. Adam and Eve were not married. The were basically brother and sister. So not only were they incestuous but committed an act of adultery. Marriage is a man made ceremony to show male dominance.

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:38

      Bearup... lololol you do realize that the first 11 chapters of genesis is based on story as before then there was no recordings of history? They were not brother and sister.. who was their mother? also How can it be adult if there were no commandments from God yet? besides that, they walked with God, and God told them to multiply... you miss this again, this is Gods Law.. not our own. also, Marriage did not exist then, marriage came up in the old testament and people would have more than one wife, but Jesus changed this in the new testament... and the RCC is his Church...

  • GB Garratt - 2013-03-14 13:00

    I am completely pooped out.

  • bearpup - 2013-03-14 14:10

    Looking at all them dumb followers worshiping this pathetic pomp and ceremony of a man who will be the leader of the oldest and biggest criminal organisation in the history of mankind. 1) The BRUTAL Spanish Inquisition. 2) The burning of "heretics" 3) The Dark Ages 4) The crusades that almost wiped out the muslim world. 5) Supporting Hitler and the Nazi's 6) The most wealthiest Sect in the world but yet it fails to feed the hungry. 7) Against birth control 8) Homophobic 9) Rampant abuse of children 10) Major Political influence in a so called democracy (Italy)

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:03

      Ok. looking at your list you seem to be anti catholic.. that's your choice, most probably due to miss information from the internet of give to you by another. 1. We all know the Church went through a dark time in the middle ages, this is when all Christians were still catholic. so if your christian, then you may as well be calling the kettle black. 2.) the crusades did wipe out muslims, though not as much as the hype that we are led to believe and definitely did not "almost wipe out the Muslim world". For the first 300 years of Christianity. the followers of Jesus would accept torture and death from the Roman Empire rather than forsake their commitment to Jesus. They believed any revocation of their declared faith would earn them a ticket into Hell. There is no reason they would have willingly changed their faith from Jesus to Muhammad except by force. Islam had conquered Spain in addition to North Africa and the Middle East. When the Moors attempted to extend their empire into Europe, they were met at Tours by Charles Martel and were soundly defeated. From that point forward, Islam was pushed out of Spain. - this was the crusades (do you know how Islam came to be?) The Church never supported Hitler and the Nazis, check you history facts pal. the only thing close was to that was the meeting between the church and Hitler as Hitler threatened the church and was already ordering mass arrests of Catholics unless the church enter into a new Church-State agreement.

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:11 so you get the full story of why they decided to the agreement before you make more assumptions. 6.) The Church is the most charitable organization in the world, they give more to the poor than any other.. so i have no Idea what you are on about. and as far as wealth... All the collections in the church go to charities, the poor, and retired priest funds as priest in SA for example get R1500 a month to cover all their expenses.. that's their salary... this goes for Bishops too... so that would mean the pope, cardinals, arch bishops, bishops and priest... all the same. so they do not make money. The buildings? the Art? The church never paid for these.. Constantine had the churches built in Rome for the the Church, the people of the church pay for the building and mods. The Art was worthless when it was done for the church.. but as art goes, its value only gets put on after death... Vatican bank uses funds for the good of the church.. weather its buildings, sending priests and cardinals all over the world, education (catholic church established Oxford university, and Cambridge and loads like it, in fact most of modern education and institutions, match etc, come from the church)

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 15:20

      Why...look at that lovely pic on google with them lovely innocent Catholic priests doing a charming Nazi salute. And you totally omitted the Spanish Inquisition from your fact reply. Was that a little part of history you want brushed under the carpet?

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:29

      7) lol, and you would think this is good? it goes against Gods law, the 10 commandments, though shalt not kill.. and you think the Church should pass this one up? where are your morals? 8) as mentioned above, The Church is not homophobic, in fact they are accepting of all Gods people, gay or not, however the church does not condone the act of homosexuality as it goes against Gods law...again, ignorant, this is a Religious institution, overlook by man, guided by the holy spirit, Their goal is one of a spiritual nature, while here to love one another and ad hear to Gods law. Not to make their own superficial laws - you can find that in certain modern "christian" denominations. 9.) I love this one, yeah Child abuse has occurred in the church... and in every other religion... and to shine some light (fact), the catholic church has the lowest rate of allegations and guilty parties out of all the religious groups. Research by Jews, Protestants and non religious research parties all come to the same conclusion... it is Just the Media and people like you who make it out to be so massive and wide spread withing the church (not factual evidence).. which it is NOT! sorry for you. 10) yes there is a Major Political influence around the world, because the church will not side with a government or leader who opposes its teachings, and its followers (Catholics) would generally vote in the same vain as their leaders according to how it fits with the churches teachings.

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:32

      as for Italy.. Vatican is a country on its own, Italy is loaded with Catholics obviously... so there may be a democracy but they vote according to teaching (they still vote hence a democracy - your point is invalid), so the lesser of the two evils if you will. also, The church is not a democracy..Neither is God.

      bearpup - 2013-03-14 15:56

      Rian. Have you been to Italy? Do you understand the political landscape of that country? The Vatican might be a secular State, but it still has powerful allies within the Italian government. Every Italian from my generation (35-45) and younger have one thing in common. They do NOT like the catholic church because of this influence. Especially the gay community! Every time they try vote through a bill for marriage equality it is blocked by whom? It's an easy answer! And let me tell you something. It destroys lives! It destroyed mine! And i will always, as long as i have breath inside me, despise this corrupt disgusting organisation. And it's not just's the whole christian faith!

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 15:59

      Bearup.. my mistake, though ti is funny how I Reply to your criticisms with insight but you still choose to point out the tiny little one I left out... picking aren't you? :) 1.) Spanish inquisitions: Also Blown way out of proportion (not to say that I or the modern church agree with it, we all have bad days and good), though I will say the BBC did a good Job of enlightening people to the truth. Many Prisoners in secular prisons would blaspheme just to be moved and charged in an Ecclesiastical court - Inquisition courts if you will as they were less harsh and more Fair. The Grand Inquisitor Fray Tomas de Torquemada, had more than 100 000 pass through his various Tribunals throughout Spain and only had less than 2% executed for heresy. A Figure very far off what most people think it to be through misinformation and gossip, don't mean I agree with it, but this was in an age where execution was the norm for theft or witchcraft etc. So to take this little thing (in context to 2000 years of events and persecutions) and blowing it up and banging on the catholic church is a bit out of place.. specially in our modern age because apparently people do not know the facts. i could blow something you did as a kid that was wrong out of proportion and use it on you now and tell you that's who you are.. even though you now know it to be a mistake and wrong.. that's exactly what people do to the church and always have.

      Rian Loubser - 2013-03-14 16:18

      I would also like to remind people that the Church Has gone through persecution on varying levels ever since it started: The Jews against Jesus and his followers the Nazarenes. Roman Persecutions (52 -312 AD) Under Julian the Apostate (361 - 368 AD) Persia (310 -628 AD) among the Goths (325 - 586 AD) Among the Lombards (560 - 590) Among the Vandals ( 422 - 523) In Arabia (16 century) Under Iconoclasts (726 - 842) China to this day. Reformation with Martin Luther and modern Christians... the worst, just bible bashes who do not even know where the bible comes from... Poland (1762 -1905) Muslims who pushed Christians out from their holy lands (crusades). Dark ages with Paganism and Heathenism. Liberalism (1791 onward), Modernization and agnosticism who are now against the church simply because of Christs teachings and how it does not fit with their way of life.

      lovell.trevor - 2013-03-15 13:37

      @Rian Dude - you're man after my own heart! Well played. Your concise explanation educated many of the people who read the responses. In fact, I'd like to congratulate all the respondents in this thread - you guys maintained your cool and did not get all emotional about everything. I'm catholic and Rian you made me proud to be one. PS: We have a pope. Here's to the next 2000 years.

  • freddie.s.swart - 2013-03-14 16:22

    Rian thank you for your inside to clear many misunderstanding rounding the Catholic faith. As as Reform Protestant I like to wish you wellbeing on your newly elected pope. To tollerate one's believes is a fundamental aspect humanity.

      lovell.trevor - 2013-03-15 13:38

      Spot on Freddie. We're pretty excited about Pope Francis too.

  • Dmitri Dumas - 2013-03-14 21:47

    Thanks for those that replied, and thanks to those who bashed me. No wonder people do not go to church because of so many self righteous people, but hey - each to their own. I am off to have a beer :)

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