New Pope, Francis I, Known As Humble Man With A Focus On Social Outreach
March 13, 2013 4:05 PM
Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
“Let’s begin this long road from the Bishop of Rome to the people. Let us all behave with love and charity. Let us pray always not just for ourselves, but for others, for everyone in the word,” Bergoglio said to the crowd gathered in St. Peters Square.
The new pope, who will be known as Francis I, is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed. He came close to becoming pope last time, reportedly gaining the second-highest vote total in several rounds of voting before he bowed out of the running in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
CBS News papal consultant Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo said Bergoglio “did not want to be pope.”
“This man did not expect to be pope,” Figueiredo said, adding that Bergoglio’s selection is an “incredibly courageous choice.”
The new pope, who had a lung removed when he was a teenager due to a lung infection, reportedly got the second most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election to replace Pope John Paul II. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pontiff.
CBS News reports that Bergoglio is not a favorite of the Vatican curia.
“This man now has a clear mandate from 115 cardinals to come in and clear out the curia,” Monsignor Figueiredo said.
Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina’s capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.
He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.
“Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit,” Bergoglio told Argentina’s priests last year.
Bergoglio’s legacy as cardinal includes his efforts to repair the reputation of a church that lost many followers by failing to openly challenge Argentina’s murderous 1976-83 dictatorship.
He also worked to recover the church’s traditional political influence in society, but his outspoken criticism of President Cristina Kirchner couldn’t stop her from imposing socially liberal measures that are anathema to the church, from gay marriage and adoption to free contraceptives for all.
The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope.
Elected on the fifth ballot, Francis was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
In comparison, Benedict was elected on the fourth ballot in 2005 — but he was the clear front-runner going into the vote. Pope John Paul II was elected on the eighth ballot in 1978 to become the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
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