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We have a pope!

Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, was elected as the 265th successor to St. Peter on March 13. He has chosen the name Francis and will be known to the world as Pope Francis.

The diocese of Hong Kong warmly welcomes Pope Francis and is asking people to pray for him as the leader of the Catholic Church.

A special Mass of thanksgiving and welcome will be held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Caine Road, Central, as soon as the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, returns from the conclave (date and time to be announced).

The diocese recognises that the new pope takes up his position at an extremely difficult time in the life of the Church and will pray especially for unity among the world’s Catholics under his leadership.

Cardinal Bergoglio has chosen the name Francis. The name has deep significance for China because of St. Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary of the 16th century, who died on Sangchuan Island within sight of the Chinese soil he dreamed of setting foot upon. It also represents the simplicity of St. Francis.

The diocese of Hong Kong is asking the people to pray that Pope Francis will take a special interest in the Church in China and may be instrumental in healing its wounds and freeing it from its bonds.


The moment

White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel chimney in the Vatican at 7.06pm Rome time (2.06am Hong Kong March 14) to signify that a pope had been elected in the fifth ballot at the conclave of cardinals, which had been meeting in the Vatican since March 12.

When Pope Francis appeared on the balcony overlooking St. Peters’ Square a little more than one hour after the white smoke appeared, he stood at attention as the Italian and Vatican anthems were played, before speaking his first words to the world as the leader of the Catholic Church.

Speaking in Italian, he said, “Good evening my brothers and sisters.”

He then said that in choosing a new pope, “It seems my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world.”

He told a packed St. Peter’s Square, “The world should set off on a path of love and fraternity… I would like to thank you for your welcome, the community of Rome, it is fraternity, I thank you... Above all, I would like to pray for Pope Benedict XVI.”

He then bowed his head and asked the people to pray for him.

Finally he imparted a simple blessing, which Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, who introduced the new pope to the world, explained carried a plenary indulgence to all present, as well as those following the scene on television or through cyberspace.


The man

Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 17 December 1936. He is the son of Italian migrants and his father worked on the railways.

He holds a master’s degree in chemistry and a licentiate in philosophy. He obtained a doctorate in Germany.

He joined the Jesuits in 1958 and was ordained a priest on 13 December 1969. He has been a teacher of theology and literature and became archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. He was made a cardinal in 2001.

He is also known as a simple pastoral person who encouraged his priests to do shoe leather evangelisation, while at the same time being a talented administrator with experience in corporate affairs.

The 76-year-old becomes the first ever pope from the Society of Jesus, an order of priests and brothers founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in Paris in 1534.

The first pope from Latin America is known for his strong stand for social justice and belief in the unity of all people. 

Cardinal Bergoglio is known in Buenos Aires as a holy and humble pastor of the poor, who lives simply, riding buses and cooking for himself.

In 2009, he admonished some priests in his diocese for refusing to baptise babies born out of wedlock to poor, young women.

He pointed out that they should be welcomed as people who have resisted the temptation to have an abortion and stood up at great cost to themselves for the right to life.


Return to Latin America

His first international engagement will probably be World Youth Day in Brazil, which will serve as a welcome back to Latin America for the new pope.



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