Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio Named as Next Pope (UPDATED)

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina will become the next supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires will take on the name of Pope Francis I after he was elected elected by at least 77 of the cardinals attending the Papal conclave this week at the Vatican.  

The 76-year-old Bergolio will become the first Latin American, non-European and Jesuit to become Pope.

According to CNN:
Bergoglio is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing. He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

Bergoglio has not shied from defending Argentina's poor and youth and once said that the South American country's "social debt is immoral, unjust and illegitimate".  

The son of Italian immigrants, Bergoglio speaks Italian and German aside from his native Spanish and was named as cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Bergoglio allegedly received the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election.

The new pontiff, who takes over for Benedict XVI, was chosen on either the fourth or fifth ballot taken on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of Catholics gathered in St. Peter's Square and welcomed the new Pope with a great cheer and celebration.

One of the new Pope's first major trips will be when he travels this July to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

Update (4:10 PM): The newly elected Pope Francis I called on "all men and women of good will" to help him guide the Catholic Church.

"As you know the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world," joked the former Cardinal Bergoglio in front of a massive crowd at St. Peter's Square.

Update (4:40 PM): Moments ago Argentine President Cristina Kirchner issued a public comment over the bestowed upon Bergoglio.

Kirchner, who did not meet eye-to-eye with Bergoglio over issues like birth control and gay marriage, issued a congratulatory message via her Twitter account.

"It is our wish that you have, upon assuming the leadership of the Church, a fruitful task carrying out great responsibilities related to justice, equality, peace and friendship of humanity," read part of the message. 

Prior to Kirchner's letter, the new pontiff has received messages of congratulations from the European Union, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, interim Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Update (5:50 PM): Bergoglio may have finished as runner up in the 2005 conclave that chose Joseph Ratzinger as pontiff.  Yet the selection of the Argentine as the next Pope was a surprise for bookmakers such as William Hill, which gave Bergoglio odds of 25-1.

Though Bergoglio has yet to go through his first twenty-four hours as Pope, Irish-based firm Paddy Power placed odds on who his replacement could be.  Italian Archbishop Angelo Scola is the frontrunner at 5-1, followed by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 6-1 and an 8-1 tie between Cardinals Sean O'Malley of the U.S. and Marc Ouellet of Canada.

The top Latin American picks to succeed Francis I according to Paddy Power are Cardinals Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras and Brazil's Odilo Scherer and Joao Braz de Aviz.

(More updates after the page break)

Update (9:45 PM): Unsurprisingly, the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as the next Pope has thrilled  Argentinians.

"I'm very happy.  I didn't expect this to happen," said Buenos Aires resident Mariano Solis who celebrated with dozens of others at the capital city's Plaza de Mayo.

At St. Peter's Square, meanwhile, Catholics of Latin American background celebrated Bergoglio's achievement.

"He is also an American pope," said Enrique Pollack to Fox News Latino. "United States is also in the Americas – don't forget that," mentioned Pollack who waved a Cuban flag.    

Update (10:15 PM): Argentine President Cristina Kirchner confirmed she will head to Rome for the installation of Pope Francis I despite previous friction with Bergoglio.

"I wish with all my heart that Francis I can achieve a greater fellowship between people and religions," said Kirchner at a public event on Wednesday afternoon.

She also congratulated Bergoglio for choosing the Papal name of Francis as an "option that could help us all rediscover humanity, fraternity, love and justice." 

Bergoglio may have chosen to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order of Friars famed for his humility, and St. Francis Xavier who co-founded the Jesuits.

Update (11:00 PM): Unlike some of his fellow cardinals from the Americas, Bergoglio has not been troubled by allegations of committing or covering up sexual abuse.  Nevertheless, he has come under scrutiny for willingly turning a blind eye to human rights abuses committed by the "Dirty War"-era military junta in Argentina.

In 2001, Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky accused Bergoglio of involvement in the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests by security forces. 

"It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the Church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cozy with the military," Fortunato Mallimacci, the former dean of social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, once said to Reuters.

Bergoglio's supporters have rejected the accusations as false and have claimed that he helped numerous dissidents escape to safety.

Select Online Sources including Updates - Fox News Latino, La Nacion, World Youth Day 2013, CNN, USA TODAY, CBC News

Video Source - YouTube via Associated Press


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