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Francis Embarks on First Day

Francis Embarks on First Day Pope Francis on the altar inside St. Mary Major Basilica. (L'Osservatore Romano, via AP)

As leader of what many fear is an unfixable church.

In a world gone to hell, thank God, a pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio began his tenure as Pope Francis on Thursday, embarking on a journey that many fear will be plagued with insurmountable challenges. Pope Benedict XVI left behind what many believe to be a broken church, plagued by continued sex scandals and viewed as out of touch with reality. As the first Jesuit pope elected, Francis is already making waves. But as one of the safer choices among the candidates up for pontiff, few expect him to foster major changes in the church during his term.

Read it at The New York Times

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. What does that mean? From the motto AMDG to rumored Socialism ties, Caroline Linton what you should know about the Society of Jesus.

Vive il papa! Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the new Pope on Wednesday—the first Jesuit pope since the Society of Jesus was founded nearly 500 years ago. What does that mean? A breakdown of what you need to know about Jesuits.

Twitter reacts to the elevation of Pope Francis.

1. What are the Jesuits?

You may have a hazy recollection of the Jesuits from the days you applied to college, but the Society of Jesus is much more than an administrator of prestigious American universities. Also known as “God’s Marines” or “The Company,” the order of priests and brothers was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 with six other students at the University of Paris. St. Ignatius had a military background, and early adherents referred to themselves as the “Company of Jesus,” hence both of the nicknames that live to this day. Probably happy that the Jesuits were not forming their own church, like Martin Luther a few decades earlier, Pope Paul III granted them commendation in 1537 to become priests. Three years later, he gave them the right to become their own order of priests. As the head of the new order, Ignatius sent his priests throughout Catholic Europe to start schools, colleges and seminaries. By Ignatius’s death in 1556, the Jesuits had already founded 74 colleges on three continents. With missionary work as a core value, the Jesuits have been known for spreading Catholicism throughout the world. Pope Francis’s namesake, St. Francis Xavier, is in particular credited with the Church’s expansion in Asia. [UPDATE: Pope Francis later clarified that he had taken the name from St. Francis of Assisi, not St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis of Assisi is the symbol for peace, austerity, and poverty.]

Don’t Cry

Argentina’s Very, Very Big Year

Its economy might be in the tanks, but the country known for Evita and giant steaks is exporting some pretty impressive goods these days, writes David Kaufman.

If three’s a trend, then things might be looking up for Argentina—a country plagued by rampant inflation, a looming default, and a plummeting peso.

On Wednesday, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years. That makes him pretty much the most famous Argentine since Eva Perón.

Argentina Pope Latin America

Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, Pope Francis, and Lionel Messi. (Getty (2); AP (1))

This comes a little more than a month after Holland’s Queen Beatrix announced she would abdicate the throne in favor of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. When he becomes King Willem-Alexander, his wife, Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, will become the queen consort (which is like a queen, only not exactly). And guess what? She’s also Argentine!


Pope Francis to Visit Benedict

Pope Francis to Visit Benedict Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

In his first papal act.

We have a pope! Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina has been selected as the new leader of the Catholic Church, the first pontiff from Latin America and the first from outside of Europe in over 1,000 years. The 76-year-old will take the name Francis I. Shortly after being selected, Francis spoke from Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and asked Catholics to say a prayer for his predecessor. “I’d ask you to pray to God so that he can bless me,” Bergoglio told the cheering crowd. He delivered his first tweet from @pontifex, writing “HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM.” According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the new pope’s first act will be to visit recently retired Pope Benedict tomorrow at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. Not too shabby for a first day.

Read it at Houston Chronicle


Watch Out, Vatican City

Pope Francis is warm, humble, and ready to shake things up. Christopher Dickey on the cardinal who managed to escape the taint of the church’s worst scandals.

Pope Francis, a.k.a. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is a very humble man with a very complicated history.

As an Argentine, the 76-year-old is the first pontiff from the Americas—anywhere in the Americas. Indeed, he is the first non-European pope since the first millennium. His fellow cardinals had gone to “the end of the world” to find him, he said with winning modesty in his first remarks from the balcony at St. Peter’s.


Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope Francis I, appears at the window of St. Peter’s Basilica's balcony after being elected Wednesday the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty)

He is also a Jesuit, part of that order of brilliant scholars (think of their Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., for instance) and historically an order of conspirators whose leader used to be called the Black Pope, a power behind the scenes in the internal politics of the Catholic Church.

Report From Saint Peter’s

Habemus Who?

Catholics have to decipher what the College of Cardinals was thinking when it made this not-so-young, not-so-well-known leader the new pope. Barbie Latza Nadeau reports from Vatican City.

In the end, the Vaticanisti had it wrong. After nearly two weeks of expert Vatican speculation following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, the names floating to the top of the heap never quite settled on Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires. Not even SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, had thought to include Bergoglio on their list. Why? Because as the main contender to Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI, many had assumed Bergoglio’s moment had passed.


Spectators react as newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Wednesday. (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

But when the white smoke poured out of the dampened chimney and the bells of Saint Peter’s rang on a rainy Roman Wednesday afternoon, the crowds went wild with anticipation. Romans did as Romans do and ran to Saint Peter’s Square to await word of just who would be leading the Roman Catholic Church. As time passed, excitement quickly gave way to mild speculation. By the time the red curtains on the balcony were drawn, almost 40 minutes later, most people in the square had settled on the Italian Angelo Scola or the Brazilian Odilo Scherer. After all, the Vatican experts had predicted that a short conclave meant that one of the two frontrunners had cinched the deal.

Instead, it was truly a “habemus who?” moment in Saint Peter’s Square when Bergoglio’s name was read. There were no yells of celebration. Instead the mood was lukewarm as pilgrims and journalists quizzically asked each other whose name was announced and then tried to figure out just who the new pope was. “Who? Who?” a group of Roman nuns near the center of the square asked each other frantically. “Bergoglio? Who is he? Where is he from?”


A Pope for the Poor

Bergoglio is unpretentious and an advocate for the disadvantaged. Can he save the church from scandal?

The revelation of his name drew a collective gasp from the tens of thousands packed in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square. Looking serene and avuncular, in studious wire-rim glasses, Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped slowly onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to become Francis I, making history in the Roman Catholic Church and throughout the Christian world.

Vatican Pope

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, March 13, 2013. (L'Osservatore Romano via AP)

Bergolgio, 76, is not just the first pope from Latin America but also the first from outside of Europe. He is a Jesuit as well, an outlier order in the mainstream church that many Vatican insiders and centuries of Catholic lore asserted would never produce a pontiff.

Few if any of the Vaticanistas and theological pundits who saturated the airwaves before and during the conclave got around to mentioning the Argentine cleric. And while Bergoglio was a dark-horse candidate during the conclave that elected Josef Ratzinger, his name did not figure on the bookies list of papapibles.

Pope Who?

Six Best Reads on Pope Francis

New pope

A man reads a special edition of L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, which carries a photograph of newly elected Pope Francis I, on Wednesday in Vatican City. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

A new pope has been named! The Daily Beast rounds up some of the best reads to introduce you to Pope Francis—and explain why he was picked.

Who Is Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
John L. Allen Jr., National Catholic Reporter

A profile of the first Jesuit to be elected pope, a runner-up in the 2005 conclave, which picked Joseph Ratzinger to succeed John Paul II.

Saint Francis of Assisi
Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

Francesco di Bernardone, whose name Bergoglio chose as his new papal moniker, was considered a saint even before his death. He posed a challenge for the church: he was too revered not to claim, too radical not to neutralize.


Can We Call Him Frank?

Yesterday, he was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Today, he’s Francis. Andrew Romano on why the new pope picked his new name.

The name of the new pope is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. But after this week, you probably won’t hear him called “Jorge” or “Bergoglio” much anymore (let alone “Mario”). That’s because Bergoglio has decided that his regnal name—the loftier moniker that Vicars of Christ have been adopting since 533 AD—will be Francis, or, more precisely, Pope Francis.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier. (De Agostini/Getty)

So why do popes ditch their baptismal names the minute they’re elected? And why did Bergoglio choose Francis?

The first pope to make the change was John II. In the early centuries of the Catholic Church, Bishops of Rome always retained their baptismal names while “in office.” But when John II was born, in A.D. 470, his parents named his Mercurius.  A lovely choice, you say? We agree. The problem was that Mercurius had been named after the Roman god Mercury, and he didn’t think it appropriate to carry such a blatantly pagan sobriquet into the papacy. Thus he decreed that henceforth he would be known as Pope John II, and so he was.

Holy Words

Read Pope Francis's First Speech

Cardinal Bergoglio became the first Latin American, first Jesuit, and first Pope Francis in history on Wednesday. Here's the text from his first address from the Vatican balcony.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good evening.

As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome, and it seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen who is from far away. Here I am.

I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops, thank you very much. And first and foremost, I would like to pray for our bishop emeritus, Benedict XVI


Funniest #NewPope Tweets

We have a new pope, folks. And the holiness of the occasion didn't stop plenty of Twitter users from cracking jokes.


Southern Discomfort

Will a pope from Africa or Latin America really speak for the faithful? By Christopher Dickey and Mac Margolis

The greatest divide in the Catholic Church is the Tropic of Cancer. No, not the infamous old Henry Miller novel, but the actual line of latitude that circles the globe just south of Miami, Luxor, Calcutta and Beijing.


Ghanaian cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, left, attends a mass at the St Peter's basilica. Brasilian cardinal and Sao Paulo archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, right, arrives at St. Andrea al Quirinale church to lead a Sunday service mass. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty (L),Franco Origlia/Getty (R))

Above the Tropic, there’s a crisis of faith, but a surfeit of popes.

 Indeed, all the popes in history – even the African popes of early Christendom – have come from north of the line. Yet in Europe and the United States, certainly, the church is in crisis. Below the Tropic, on the other hand, the Catholic Church continues to grow dramatically. So the conventional wisdom in Rome is that the future lies in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. And the cliché of every conclave is that this time there could be a pope who comes from the south and speaks for its peoples.

Text Alerts!

Your Guide to Pope-Picking

Want to be first to know when we have a new pope? Listen to music that’ll put you in a conclave mood? Nina Strochlic on all the online tools to get you there.

Are you waiting with bated breath until one cardinal has emerged triumphant over all the rest to serve as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics? Have you been compulsively checking to see if white smoke has billowed from the Sistine Chapel yet? Day 1 of papal voting yielded a big cloud of black smoke, so the suspense continues. (Fingers crossed it doesn’t last for nearly three years, like those indecisive guys in the 13th century.) But no need to fret—a few online helpers can let you get your hands dirty in the notoriously secretive process of pope-picking while ensuring you’re alerted immediately when “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”) rings from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.


Cardinals attend the Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass at St Peter's Basilica, before they enter the conclave to decide who the next pope will be, on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty)

First things first, fire up Spotify and plug into “Songs for the Conclave,”  a special papal-themed playlist created by Timothy O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. “The playlist is intended to give the listener a disposition of wonder, of contemplation, of prayer to the God who first loved us,” O’Malley says. Be sure to listen to them all before picking the perfect quivering orchestral Latin song to play at the moment a decision is made. (Feel free to turn this on at your next party to bring a little unexpected holiness to your friends.)

If you don’t have time to watch a livefeed from outside the Vatican all day—c’mon, what else are you doing?—the aptly named “Is There a Pope” site will save you the trouble of Googling or asking a neighboring coworker about the conclave’s progress. It provides the answer you seek in two or three letters: yes or no. The Guardian’s ”Is There White Smoke?” will do the trick as well, complete with some smoky animation. And if typing in these URLs expends too much effort, Pope Alarm will shoot you a quick text, email, or both (better do that one) when the conclave makes its decision. For the Twitter-fanatics, @PapalSmokeStack is “informing the world of the Holy Spirit's choice as the new Bishop of Rome.”


The Case for Padre Sean

With a history of tirelessly helping the poor, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has shown just the kind of qualities the world needs in a new pope, argues Christopher Dickey.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Sean O’Malley, who may stand a better chance than any American in history of becoming pope when the conclave convenes in Rome on Tuesday. I knew him in the late 1970s, and even then he had the qualities that I think a lot of people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, would like to see in the person who will be called Holy Father.


Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley leads a mass at Santa Maria Della Vittoria as he and the rest of the College of Cardinals prepare to gather this week and select a new pope in Rome, Italy. The conclave is scheduled to start on March 12 inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

O’Malley, 68, is a cardinal now, and the archbishop of Boston. But in those days we were both very young. I was in my 20s and a fledgling metro reporter covering immigrant communities for The Washington Post. He was in his early 30s, but had already spent several years running a center for Hispanics out of a semi-derelict old building called the Kenesaw in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

The people who came to him for help often had no papers and were living on the edge of personal disaster, far from their families and homes in Nicaragua and El Salvador, Peru and Bolivia. But this bearded Franciscan friar in the long brown robes, the pointed hood and the sandals of the Capuchin order, who looked so strange on the streets of the nation’s capital at the height of the disco era, seemed wonderfully familiar and reassuring for the immigrants. He was an unabashed icon of the church they knew, the human embodiment of the charity they hoped for, the worldly and wise friend who could help them straighten out their lives. “Padre Sean,” they called him.


Cover It Live

Papal Inauguration: Live Updates From Rome!

Papal Inauguration: Live Updates From Rome!

Follow our reporters Barbie Latza Nadeau and Christopher Dickey in Rome as Pope Francis takes over. See tweets, photos, and videos.

viva la papa

All About the Pope

Not Your Average Pope

Not Your Average Pope

As 200,000 cheered on, Pope Francis was inaugurated in a glitzy Vatican City ceremony this morning.


The Dirty War for Dummies

Dirty War

The Pope’s Penance

Pope Gives God Three Weeks' Notice

Shocking the Vatican and Catholics around the world Monday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign the papacy at the end of February, becoming the first Pope to do so since 1415. Take a look back at his 2005 election.

Scandal Sheet

Remember VatiLeaks?

The Swiss Guards' Gay Mafia

The Swiss Guards' Gay Mafia

Accusations are swirling about a secret gay cabal inside the Vatican's pope-protecting forces and how much it knew about the departure of Pope Benedict.


Peeping on the Pope

Heads Will Roll

The Pope’s Posse

Good Egg

Is the Pope Rewriting Easter?

Habemus Papam

Conclave Conspiracies