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POPE LIVE: Around the world as a new pope emerges

Wednesday - 3/13/2013, 9:56pm  ET

Visitors take photos of Pope Francis as he speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Associated Press

"Pope Live" follows the choice of the new pope as seen by journalists from The Associated Press around the world. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest.

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CHALLENGES AHEAD

He has won the papacy, but there is little time for celebration.

Pope Francis takes over a Vatican plagued by scandal in its bureaucracy and under pressure over its failures to protect children from sexual abuse by priests. The Church is also losing parishioners and its influence on public life, and some Catholics face persecution and violence in parts of the Middle East and China.

Lauded for his humility and austerity, the 76-year-old from Argentina will be called upon to emulate one of his namesakes, St. Francis of Assisi, who saw his calling as trying to rebuild the church.

Francis will celebrate his first Mass as pope in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday and will be installed officially on Tuesday, ahead of the busy Easter calendar.

His first public words to the thousands cheering in St. Peter's Square today were characteristically humble: "Thank you for the welcome."

With that, the 266th papacy has begun.

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QUICKQUOTE: 'FRESH AIR'

"It will bring fresh air to the Church ... I think the Church needs that at this time, somebody from a different zone."

-- the Rev. Keneth Obiekwe (oh-bee-AYK-way), pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in central Louisiana, a state whose Catholic origins are reflected in its division into parishes rather than counties. He says that although he had thought the next pope might be from Latin America, he was still surprised when he turned out to be right.

-- Janet McConnaughey

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FRANCIS TO VISIT BENEDICT

Pope Francis will visit his predecessor Benedict XVI at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan says Francis told fellow cardinals following the conclave that made him pope: "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to visit Benedict."

Benedict resigned on Feb. 28, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years.

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A MORE CHEERFUL CONCLAVE

Arkansas est solum IV percent catholicus -- or, in English, Arkansas is only 4 percent Catholic. But it does have a Pope County. In the county seat of Russellville, a Nigerian priest who leads St. John's Catholic Church says Pope Francis' election had a different feel than previous ones because the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, is still alive.

"So this conclave took place in a good mood. The cardinals were not in grief, nobody died," says the Rev. Chuma Ibebuike (ee-bay-BWEE-kay).

Ibebuike says having a pope from the Americas gives hope to those who would like to see a Catholic leader from Africa or Asia. "That the leader of the whole church comes from the new church, so to say, is amazing and I think he will really strengthen the faith of the old church," he says. "The black pope, that's what we are still waiting for."

-- Jeannie Nuss -- Twitter http://twitter.com/jeannienuss

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POPE AND THE DIRTY WAR

Pope Francis has been criticized by some for his actions years ago during Argentina's "Dirty War."

Many Argentines remain angry over the Catholic Church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a right-wing dictatorship after a 1976 coup that was kidnapping and killing thousands of its citizens as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements."

Under his leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock during the 1970s. But the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.

That statement came far too late for some activists, who accused Bergoglio of being more concerned about the church's image than about aiding human rights investigations in Argentina.

Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in court. When he eventually did testify in 2010, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman said his answers were evasive.

At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests -- Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics -- who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.

Both men were freed after Bergoglio took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them. Bergoglio never shared the details until he was interviewed for a 2010 biography.

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