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pope francis I at installation mass Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (Photo: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

We Have a Pope!

Pope Francis I installed as new leader of Catholic Church

By Andrew Liang | null null , null

Last Wednesday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina was elected the new pope by his fellow cardinals. Cardinal Bergoglio chose the papal name Francis and became Pope Francis I.

Pope Francis was officially installed in a ceremony at the Vatican this morning.

vatican city map
Vatican City is the world’s smallest country. (Map by Jim McMahon)
Pope Francis is now the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest Christian church in the world with more than 1.2 billion members. The pope is also the head of state of Vatican City. Vatican City is located in Rome, Italy, but it is in fact an independent nation. It's the smallest country in the world, as well as the headquarters of the Catholic Church.

He is also the first pope from the Americas and the first non-European Pope in more than 1,200 years. He is also the first pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order whose members vow to live in poverty. They are known as Jesuits.

"His election shows that the Church is Catholic or universal and will encourage many people around the world, particularly people of Latin cultures," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told the Kids Press Corps.

Who is Pope Francis?

Pope Francis is 76 years old. He is the son of an Italian railway worker. When he was only a teenager, he had a lung removed due to an infection.

Before elected as pope, Cardinal Bergoglio was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. As Archbishop, he was a champion of the poor and lived humbly. He refused to live in the cardinal's residence and be driven by a chauffeur. Instead, he lived in a small apartment, cooked for himself, and rode the public bus to work every day.

"How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor," Pope Francis told reporters on Saturday.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. believes that while the pope will have a different approach to leading the Catholic Church, the church's principles will not change.

"While Pope Francis offers a whole new, fresh vision, there will not be a change [to] the Gospel message that we bring to each and every person," Cardinal Wuerl told the Kids Press Corps. "The task of every Pope is to teach, to help people to become holy, and to govern the church. Following Jesus, Pope Francis is calling us all – both Catholics and non-Catholics – to love one another, to be good to one another, to build a world of truth and peace and justice and kindness."

Past Controversy

Pope Francis takes charge of a church facing loud calls for reform and mounting controversy. But only hours after introducing the new pope, the Vatican has had to face another challenge: Pope Francis' record.

As a priest in Argentina, Francis (then called Jorge Mario Bergoglio) was a religious leader during a crisis known as the Dirty War. From 1976-1983, a military dictatorship in Argentina cracked down on anyone it felt threatened its power. Thousands of people were killed, kidnapped, or disappeared.

According to some Argentinians, Bergoglio allowed two Jesuit priests to be kidnapped in 1976 while he was the religious order's leader. Since there are still many questions about what happened during the Dirty War, it has been difficult for a true record to be made of what role Bergoglio played.

But Francis and the Vatican have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

"There has never been a credible accusation against him," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters. "[These charges] must be rejected decisively. There have been many declarations of how much he did for many people to protect them from the military dictatorship."

How Archbishop Bergoglio Became Pope Francis I

Cardinal Bergoglio's path to becoming pope began after Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February.

To find a new pope, the College of Cardinals gathered at the Vatican for a secret process known as the papal conclave.

cardinal donal wuerl
Cardinal Donald Wuerl was one of the 115 cardinals who voted in the papal election. (Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Washington D.C.)
"At the papal conclave, the Cardinals of the Church younger than 80 years old gather inside the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel to choose a new Pope," Reverend Patrick Brady, Professor at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, said. "They do not make speeches or discuss candidates. Instead, they pray and vote."

Cardinal Wuerl was one of the 115 Cardinals who voted.

"Voting is by written secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of the Cardinal electors is needed for election of the new Pope," Cardinal Wuerl told the Kids Press Corps. "It is very important that the election be held in privacy so that the Cardinal electors are not influenced by outside distractions, including other people."

In this conclave, a cardinal needed 77 votes to become pope. Cardinal Bergoglio reached that number after two days of voting. He was then asked if he accepted the decision and what his papal name would be. He accepted, becoming the 266th pope and the first to be called Francis.

After the conclave, the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and announced the choice to the people gathered in St. Peter's Square below. More than 100,000 people stood in the rain to hear the announcement. Millions more watched on TVs around the globe.

"Habemus papam!" Cardinal Tauran said in Latin. "We have a pope!"

Pope Francis I then walked out onto the balcony and greeted the world.

Check out Scholastic News Online for more on Pope Francis I.


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