Pope Francis delivered his first Angelus blessing to a crowd of about 300,000 people at the Vatican on Sunday, calling for mercy as Jesus demonstrated in the biblical account of the woman caught in adultery. However, back in his native country, Argentina, accusers continued to raise questions about his past.
"Brothers and sisters, good morning," the new pope said informally as he began his address from the window of the papal apartments overlooking St Peter's Square. "I'm pleased to greet you on Sunday, which is fitting as it is the day of the Lord," he told the cheering crowd that chanted his name in Italian, "Francesco, Francesco, Francesco."
"A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just," Reuters quoted Francis as saying. more >>
The newly elected pope addressed the media for the first time on Saturday, reminding Catholics that Jesus, not the pope, is at the center of the Church, which he said should be "poor, and for the poor." The pontiff also explained his choice of the name Francis.
There were about 5,000 reporters from more than 80 countries at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican when Pope Francis said Catholics should remember that Jesus, not the pope, is the center of the Church.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina chose Francis to be his papal name because St. Francis of Assisi is "the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man," explained the only Jesuit and first Latin American to be chosen as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. "Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor," he added. more >>
Evangelist Luis Palau, who knows and has prayed together with Pope Francis on several occasions, called the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics a friend of evangelicals who is respectful of all sides of Christianity.
"I exploded," Palau told oregonlive.com, of his reaction after his son, Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association, shared the news that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope this week. "I just couldn't believe it. In the last election, he was in the running but he told me he felt led by God to remove himself from the race. I said, 'Maybe next time,' and he said, 'I'll be too old.'"
The fiery preacher who some have called the "Latin Billy Graham," said whenever they prayed together, Bergoglio asked him to "lay your hands on me and pray for me, that God will keep me as servant." The new pope is respectful of all sides of Christianity, Palau said, adding the press referred to him as the "evangelical pope" in 2008. more >>
ROME – When the white smoke appeared, those of us in St. Peter's Square couldn't help but feel that we stood at the heart of our faith: architectural beauty surrounded us as smoke wafted upwards and bells tolled; a real sense of hope spread among people of all ages and nationalities as we waited to see who would step out on the balcony as our next Pope.
When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appeared, the crowd's first reaction was surprise. That in itself should have been surprising: while Bergoglio's name wasn't frequently mentioned this past week, he had significant support in the last conclave, and that support clearly remained strong.
And for good reason: Pope Francis is someone who has lived out the Christian ideals of humility and service. In Argentina he was seen as an intellectual and a pastor who eschewed the trappings of his office, a man of great personal holiness and simplicity. Says Alejandro Bermudez, a leader in the Christian Life Movement, "Pope Francis is the man Argentineans know for leaving the Archbishop's mansion for a small apartment at a downtown parish in Buenos Aires, who travels by bus and subway, and who during the consistory of 2001, when he was created a Cardinal, requested that wealthy Argentineans renounce accompanying him and give the equivalent amount to the poor. Pope Francis has the mind of a Jesuit and the lifestyle of a Franciscan. I have no doubt that his simplicity and courage will take the Church to where it longs to be." more >>
Survivors of child sexual abuse who have been urging the Roman Catholic Church to start taking real steps to tackle the problem believe that newly elected Pope Francis provides "a glimmer of hope" that things can change for the better.
"Certainly, Francis is a man who loved to teach and was meek and understanding of the plight of the downtrodden and the marginalized in our society," said Mark Crawford, a member of SNAP, a network for survivors of clergy abuse, according to ABC News. "That's why I have this one glimmer of hopeful expectation. But he has to be assertive and aggressive."
But Crawford, 51, remains cautious, knowing any change would not come easy. more >>
Pope Francis, the newly elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has been greeted by a wide array of media responses, and while many have focused on his record with social work, his stance on gay marriage and abortion has divided opinions.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, had served as the cardinal of Buenos Aires, Argentina, since 1998 before he was elected Wednesday to succeed the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He chose to be named after St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic saint known as an early church reformer.
Many news websites have focused their coverage of Pope Francis on his social work with the poor – NBC News described him as prizing "compassion, humility and simplicity," reminding readers that back home in Buenos Aires he takes the bus to work instead of using the services of a private chauffeur. As a member of the Jesuit Society of Jesus, he has taken a vow of poverty and dedicated his life to working with the poor and suffering. more >>