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Castel Gandolfo (CNN) — Pope Francis is having lunch Saturday with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in what the Vatican said was the first such encounter in the history of the Catholic Church.
Francis, who was inaugurated as the new head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Tuesday, has made some changes since taking the helm — most notably by adopting a simpler, personal style and calling for the Church to focus on serving the poor and needy.
The new pontiff was flown to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter for the lunch date.
He was greeted at the helipad by Benedict XVI, and the pair exchanged an embrace, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. They rode in a car together to the Castel Gandolfo residence, the Vatican said.
Both men wore simple white cassocks but only Francis wore the white papal mantle and sash over his robe.
The two then prayed together, side-by-side, in a chapel before meeting in a library at the residence for 45 minutes of talks ahead of lunch.
Relations between Francis and his predecessor were warm and cordial, Lombardi said. Francis presented the latter with the gift of a painting he said reminded him of Benedict’s gifts to the Church.
Seen, but not heard
Lombardi declined to tell reporters what the pair discussed, saying only that they were private talks.
Vatican observers believe that one item on the agenda will have been the contents of a 300-page dossier presented by three cardinals to Benedict in the wake of the so-called Vatileaks scandal.
Benedict passed on the report — ordered after leaks last year revealed claims of corruption within the Vatican hierarchy — to his successor.
Italian media reports suggested the cardinals had uncovered a series of scandals involving sex, money and power, but the Vatican press office sought to tamp down what it called a rash of “often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories.”
The pair may also talk about possible appointments by Francis. The people he chooses to hold key roles may give an indication of his priorities for the Church at a time when some are calling for reform and modernization of its hierarchy.
They have spoken several times by telephone since Francis was elected 10 days ago but this is their first face-to-face meeting, the Vatican said.
Crowds who had gathered in the small town’s central square waved and clapped as the white papal helicopter twice passed overhead before landing. Some chanted “Francesco, Francesco” — the pope’s name in Italian.
According to police at Castel Gandolfo, the crowds numbered between 1,500 and 2,000.
Many had gathered in the hope of seeing Francis appear at a balcony to wave but Lombardi said this was not scheduled to happen.
Francis was elected on March 13 after Benedict became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, citing age and frailty. A new pope usually takes the reins only following the death of his predecessor.
The hilltop castle overlooking a lake is the summer papal residence and has been home to Benedict since he left Vatican City on February 28.
Benedict’s last public appearance was at a window of the castle, when he blessed the crowds below before retiring into seclusion.
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The pope emeritus is expected to move back to Vatican City at the end of April, once restoration work on a small monastery within its grounds is complete. There, he will devote himself to prayer and study.
Before resigning, he pledged his obedience to the new pope.
Benedict “has attentively followed the events of recent days,” including Francis’ inauguration Mass before crowds of well wishers and dignitaries, the Vatican said.
When the last pope to resign, Gregory XII, stepped down in 1415 it was to help resolve the worst institutional crisis in the Church’s history — a schism that had led to three rival claimants to the papacy.
And when former hermit Pope Celestine V resigned in 1294 after less than six months in office, he was imprisoned soon afterward by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII.
Busy week ahead
Pope Francis, meanwhile, is starting to get to grips with his new role now that the pomp and ceremony of his inauguration is out of the way.
On Friday, he met with the Vatican diplomatic corps and thanked them for the work they do to “build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity” with some 180 states around the world.
“Through you I encounter your peoples, and thus in a sense I can reach out to every one of your fellow citizens, with their joys, their troubles, their expectations, their desires,” he said.
The coming week, which leads up to Easter Sunday, will be a busy one for the new pontiff, starting with Palm Sunday Mass.
On Thursday, Francis will break with tradition by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper — which is centered on the gesture of the washing of feet — at the Casal del Marmo youth detention center, the Vatican said.
The service has in past years been held at the grand Basilica of St. John Lateran, the official seat of the bishop of Rome.
“In his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate the Mass in a prison or hospital or hospice for the poor and marginalized,” the Vatican said in a statement.
“With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue his custom, which is characterized by its humble context.”
It will not be the first time Francis visits the prison. He was there in March 2007 to celebrate Mass.
CNN’s Hada Messia and Ben Wedeman reported from Castel Gandolfo and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported from London.
Editors Note: The following is printed with permission from the Archdicese of San Antonio and is the official statement of Archbishop Gustavo Garca-Siller regarding the Papal selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the Holy Father of the Catholic Church.
The election of Pope Francis is a significant moment in the history of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglios selection is a sign of the faith that unites us, especially we who live in the three Americas. Born in Argentina, he is the first South American Pope and is a sign that the faith of Catholics extends beyond national and ethnic boundaries.
Our new Pope is the first Jesuit priest to be elevated to the papacy. The religious order that formed him was dedicated to the protection of the Pope and the integrity of the faith.
Pope Francis showed his humble and pastoral character when, before he gave his first papal blessing to the world, he asked for the prayers and blessing of the people. In the silent prayer of that moment was written the beginning of a new chapter in the future of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has a history of speaking courageously for Catholic values and has been a voice for the poor and marginalized, the value of every human life, and the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. He was ordained a bishop and made a cardinal by Blessed Pope John Paul II, who inspired his spirit of the New Evangelization and love for Jesus Christ and His Church.
I ask all Catholics, and people of good will, to hold our new pope up in prayer so that he will be strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. At this historic moment let us all offer our thanks to God for this inspired choice.
Archbishop Gustavo Garca-Siller
A month after a pope resigned for the first time in over 600 years, Jorge Mario Bergoglio took his place. He is the first pope in the history of the Catholic Church to come from South America.
On March 13, as a puff of white smoke emerged from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, members of the UB community experienced a diverse array of responses as Catholic cardinals selected a new pope to lead the church during challenging times.
The Argentina native will be called Francis. He chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most revered religious figures in history, noted for his acts of charity and embrace of those living in poverty.
Father Patrick Keleher, director of the Newman Center at UB: Catholic Campus Ministry, expressed a desire for the new pope to “change the melody, but not the words.”
He also stated he was pleased to see the Cardinals pick someone from Latin America and that, at age 76, Pope Francis is both old enough to have the wisdom for the papacy and young enough to have the ambition to change the trajectory of the church.
“I think he will be less discriminating,” Keleher said. “Let’s hope he’s more welcoming.”
But Jamie Gugino, a junior English and psychology major, doesn’t really see how the pope could “make a significant change with what is going on today in this world.”
Gugino, a native of Buffalo, grew up as a Roman Catholic and attended parochial school but later in life decided she wanted to look elsewhere for religious and spiritual guidance.
“When I was 19 or 20 years old, I tried to study all the religions so that I could pick something,” she said. “I went to Catholic school my whole life, but when I was done, I picked a religion, or tried to. I thought Buddhism and Taoism were probably the closest to what I think.”
Gugino feels the Catholic Church is not a cohesive enough institution to make a substantial impact on current affairs and the role of the pope is largely irrelevant in the modern world.
“I think between all the conspiracy theories and things [that] have been going on, that religions are kind of falling apart all over the world,” Gugino said. “I think that people are questioning what is real and what’s going on, and I think that a pope is unnecessary. Just like I think that a president is unnecessary. I don’t think we need someone like that to represent the people. I think that’s kind of stupid.”
Gugino said with all the problems the church is currently facing, including a shortage of priests, a sexual abuse crisis and a growing animosity from those who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the new pope will need to lead the church in a new direction.
Christian Andzel, president of UB Students for Life, an anti-abortion club on campus, would like to see Pope Francis proclaim a contemporary vision for the church that leads it in a direction to help the poor and unify the church. He doesn’t think it should stray from conservative values.
“He has shown in the past that he will help the poor,” Andzel said. “I think this is important because those who are conservative are painted as ‘anti-poor,’ and I think if there is a strong clerical message that says: ‘We will help the poor,’ and if we are going to walk the walk, that would be really important and I really want to see that.”
Andzel said the pope’s influence is “insurmountable” and the new pope should instigate an effort of instructing priests to go out in their communities more often, encouraging members of the church to “help out with food drives, housing for the poor and city missions.”
Along with the difficulties of governing the Vatican itself, the new pope will have to decide how he wants to manage his presence in a society where technology is becoming more and more ubiquitous.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, embraced the growing trends within a media-saturated culture by activating a Twitter account.
Andzel feels the pope should sustain a public presence but would prefer Pope Francis retain the sacred and mysterious quality of the papacy by being more traditional and abstaining from online social networking services.
“I think the pope needs to be more visible,” Andzel said. “He should be out in public, with the cameras on him, doing good work.”
Keleher said he doesn’t expect the pope to “come out and say it’s all right to have same-sex marriages or abortions,” but he thinks the pope will help the church adopt an attitude of an inclusion.
“I was moved to see that he blessed the feet of those AIDS patients,” Keleher said. “We need that kind of compassion, and it has always been a part of the church doctrines.”
He noted while the pope’s job is “to traditionally be conservative,” Pope Francis will be able to reach his heart out to those who feel marginalized. Keleher wouldn’t be surprised if the pope calls an ecumenical council, a group of bishops who meet and discuss Catholic matters, the way Pope John XXIII did in 1962.
While Gugino finds the pope’s role extraneous to modern society, Andzel and Keleher have hopes he will make important impacts.
In the meantime, Catholics await how Pope Francis will proceed as the leader of a worldwide church.
Enugu — Many catholic faithful in Enugu city have expressed satisfaction with Wednesday’s election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.
Some of those who spoke on Wednesday praised God for granting their prayers on the successful choice of the new pontiff.
Mrs Flora Chibuzo who worships at Carmelite Church, GRA in Enugu, expressed optimism that the new pontiff would bring peace and unity to the world.
“He looks like a humble person and I hope and pray that peace and unity will come to the world through him. We should all pray for him to succeed as he requested,” she said.
Mr Joe Ozonweke, a member of the Holy Cross Parish at Abakpa Nike, described the emergence of the new pope as a blessing to the Catholic Church in particular and the world in general.
Ozonweke prayed that the new Pope discharges his pontifical duties to the glory of God and urged him to address issues concerning the promotion of peace in the world.
Mr Ikem Odenigbo and Mrs Lilian Udeani, both catholic faithful, also hailed the emergence of the new Pope known as Francis 1.
According to Odenigbo, the Pope’s adopted name portends a new leaf for the church.
“The name Francis, taken after St. Francis of Assisi, depicted humility and peace. I pray that it will come to fruition during his reign,” he said.
Udeani also described the name as wonderful, saying that it was high time a Pope answered a new name.
“I like the name, it is a wonderful decision. I encourage him to ensure peace, unity and ecumenism in the world,” she said.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, 76, was until his new position the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
He adopted the name Francis 1 following his election, and he is the first South American and non-European to emerge as Pope in the history of the Catholic Church.(NAN
The election of Pope Francis has brought many issues to the fore that represent not just the complexity of a person, but the complexity of the Catholic Church. This was especially true at the time the most controversial chapters in his history were being written.
Accusations of then Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s complicity in the Dirty War in Argentina run the gamut from full-fledged endorsement of the brutal military dictatorship to his own insistence that he worked to secure the protection of dissidents. Between 1976 and 1983, the Argentine dictatorship killed up to 30,000 student and union organizers, leftists, and those suspected with sympathizing with dissidents. Documents reveal that Bergoglio was tangled up in the torture of two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, who worked for social justice in impoverished neighborhoods. Although Bergoglio maintains that he warned them their undertakings were putting their lives in danger, the Jesuits courageously pursued the work they thought was imperative for the church. After the military kidnapped Yorio and Jalics, Bergoglio failed to come to their defense and they were subsequently tortured, but he claims he later worked behind the scenes to have them released.
Argentine writer Horacio Verbitsky is one of the harshest critics of the new pope. Aside from the accusations about the kidnapped Jesuits, he writes about Bergoglio’s knowledge of kidnapped babies during the decades-long Dirty War. Conversely, Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who wrote extensively about atrocities committed during the Dirty War, says that “Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship….Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can’t be accused of that.”
The ambivalent nature of his story is a reflection of the Catholic Church in Latin America during the era in question. In the 1970s, NACLA archives describe the III General Conference of the Latin American Episcopacy (CELAM) that was held in Medellín in 1968 and ushered in messages of empowerment, inspiring the clergy to work for social justice. During the conference, the bishops produced a document that criticized “institutional violence” and the “international imperialism of money.” The conference prompted involvement of clergy throughout Latin America to change the brutal social conditions they lived under and invigorated many in the Catholic Church who were already practicing forms of Liberation Theology, or the commitment on the part of the church to work for social justice.
However, not all of the clergy were equally willing to take the church in this direction, and many bishops were backing away from the progressive moves that had been made. In Argentina, the tension was particularly acute. NACLA republished an open letter to priests, penned from a jail cell in Argentina in 1970 by the Montonero “17 of October” Detachment of the Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas, that called on the clergy to fight against oppression. The writers describe that although the people of Argentina had not lost their faith in Christianity, they had lost their faith in the church itself. They attribute much of this disaffection to the close ties between the state and the clergy, what they call the “church-system alliance.” The people were left to fight against the “monster with whom, as they [the Argentine people] see it, the Church identifies,” and this letter was a plea for the clergy to join that struggle.
In 1972, just one year before Pope Bergoglio was made the Jesuit Provincial Superior in Argentina, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo was appointed as the leader of CELAM. A conservative auxiliary bishop, Lopez Trujillo came from Colombia, the country where the church hierarchy was most vocal in their opposition to Liberation Theology. He began a campaign to actively oppose progressive religious tendencies in Latin America by appointing conservative clergy to leadership positions. While the church hierarchy was institutionalizing the conservative shift under Trujillo, many clergy were living the declaration made in Medellín, Colombia. The conference emboldened many to fight against the military dictatorships throughout the region, and “Catholic lay persons-as well as priests and bishops-who took Medellín seriously were arrested, tortured, exiled or assassinated.” These people risked their lives through open endorsement and participation in student, peasant, and worker movements—among them the two Jesuits Yorio and Jalics were kidnapped and tortured in 1976.
The conservative changes being implemented higher up in the church hierarchy became most apparent in the CELAM held in Puebla, Mexico in 1979. Under Trujillo’s guidance, CELAM advised that the church should refrain from involvement in politics and move away from viewing the church as “being born from the people.” This stance was made possible because many bishops had been barred from attending. Interestingly, one of these banned bishops was none other than Samuel Ruiz, a figure who would later be associated with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico. At the same time that the Catholic leadership within Latin America was working to diminish the influence of progressive clergy, the Pope John Paul II appointed a dozen conservative bishops to serve in the region. While the church was condemning any association with social change, they still maintained the option for the poor, in a purely economic sense. The document that came out of the Puebla conference, while warning clergy away from Marxism, also denounced “economic liberalism” as a “materialist praxis.”
Clearly Bergoglio’s biography is bound to the history of the Catholic Church in Latin America. His insidious comments regarding gay marriage sadly reflect the stance held by many in the Catholic Church hierarchy on equal rights. Early in his career, he sided with the progressives and “stimulated the social work of the Jesuits,” but deferred to the state as they came down on this movement. His lack of will to take a strong stand and do more than fight quietly behind the scenes against the Argentine dictatorship is in stark contrast to the courageous work others were doing to change the currents of repression throughout Latin America.
In the 1970 open letter to the priests, the Argentine resistance fighters observed, “Facing the reality of a people that suffers, stifled by an inhuman and anti-Christian system, the priest finds himself in an institution alienated from the people’s reality, when not actually opposed to the people, and comfortably situated in the system which oppresses the people.” Throughout his career Bergoglio was dedicated to easing the plight of the poor, yet he refused to risk his comfortable situation to stand up for those fighting for the political rights of the very same people.
Kyle Barron is a graduate student in comparative politics at New York University and an Associate Editor at NACLA.
Home Church 2013-03-13 19:29:15
(Vatican Radio) The use of the words ‘Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam ‘, Latin words meaning: ‘we announce with great joy, we have a new Pope’.. goes back to the days of the election of Martin V in 1417.
An election which took place during the Council of Constance at the time of a deadlock which was finally resolved by this very Council. A troubeld moment in the history of the Catholic Church when at least three popes had claimed the See of Peter. They were to quote from Historian Jesuit Professor Norman Tanner’s book ‘New Short History of the Catholic
Church ‘ : ‘Pope Gregory XII, of the Roman line, persuaded to resign in July. John XXIII also abdicated, under pressure .Benedict XIII, of the Avigonon line, adamantly refused to resign and was eventually deposed by the council. Thereby the path was cleared for a fresh election an din November 1417 Oddo Colonna was duly elected by the council and took the name Martin V”.
And as many people say, it was this sense of relief to have resolved a schism that provoked this expression as if to say ‘finally… the pope is one and only”!..
0White smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace and bell chimes announced to the world that a new pontiff had been elected. St.Peter’s Square in the Vatican, resonating with the excited voices of dozens of thousands of pilgrims and non-believers who had converged on Rome to witness the momentous occasion for the catholic world, erupted in a chorus of joyous exclamations: “Long Live the Pope! Long Live the Pope!” The flags of different countries could be seen unfurled above the milling crowd… A short while later, Cardinal-Archdeacon Jean-Louis Tauran appeared on the balcony to solemnly announce: “Habemus papam!” a Latin phrase meaning “We have a Pope.” The newly-elected Pontiff has chosen the name of Francis I. As soon as Pope Francis appeared on the balcony, he pronounced his first “Urbi et Orbi” – an address and Apostolic Blessing to the City of Rome, and to the world.
0“The Conclave was to give the world a new Pope, and the cardinals seem to have done everything in their powers. And here I am. But above all, I would like to pray for Pope Benedict XVI. May the Holy Virgin watch over him and protect him. I would also ask you all to pray to Our Lord for me, so that our journey together be one of fraternity, love and trust.”
0The election of Cardinal Bergoglio was most unexpected, confessed art critic and Vatican expert Yekaterina Santoni-Sinitsyna in an interview for the Voice of Russia.
0“When white smoke above the Sistine Chapel appeared, everyone thought the new Pope would be either Cardinal Bertone, or Cardinal Scola – Archbishop of Milan. So it was a tremendous surprise for us all. However, in 2005 it was Cardinal Bergoglio who was the main rival in the election of Benedict XVI. This is a highly educated man, born in Argentine, but with Italian heritage. He was the youngest of five children, majored in chemistry and in 1969 was ordained a priest. He graduated from the seminary, and became a cardinal in February 2001. We are happy that he was the one elected; he certainly produces a most favorable impression. And in another important detail: he chose the name Francis I. In the history of the pontificate this is the first case when a secular name is chosen. The name of Francis was not always well received by the Roman Catholic Church. Mostly chosen were names of monarchs. The newly elected Pope is a Jesuit. In the history of the Roman Catholic Church there were four Franciscan Popes. The current one is Jesuit. And when a Jesuit chooses a Franciscan name, I believe that is a good sign. Most likely the Church is in for a period of reforms.”
0Jesuit Jorje Mario Bergoglio is known as a skilled theologian and a moderate conservative, strongly opposing abortions and euthanasia, a staunch opponent of gay marriage, frequently voiced support for programs in aid of the impoverished, and publicly expressed doubts about the justification of free market policies. Apparently, the Vatican deemed the Church required just such a pontiff today, since the new Pope will be facing a number of urgent problems requiring solution.
0Prior to the election of the new Pontiff, vaticanists claimed the new Pope would ascend the throne of St.Peter at a difficult time for the Church. Numerous scandals that have relentlessly pursued the Vatican of late, and numerous outstanding issues were not resolved by the previous pontiff – Benedict XVI, who stepped down on February 28. Evil tongues even went as far as to claim these issues were the main reason for the resignation of Cardinal Ratzinger. This was also the case of the notorious “Vatileaks,” investigation into which the retired Benedict XVI chose not to make public, passing it on to the new pontiff, as well as the problem of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, and dwindling numbers of churchgoers. Another issue the new Pope will have to tackle is the strengthening positions of Islam in the EU countries, and the need to staunchly defend the traditional Christian values in the contemporary world.
Pope Francis at the Vatican. Credit: Flickr/mazur.
Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, was installed on the feast day of St. Joseph as the 266th pope over the Holy Roman Catholic Church. For a religious historian like myself, his appointment has been a dizzying number of firsts: the first Jesuit to become pope, the first pope in the modern era to succeed a pope, Benedict XVI, who is still alive, the first pope from Latin America, and the first to take the name of Francis.
While all of these firsts are important, they also must pass through the prism of the Jesuits’ history, the Catholic Church’s history in Latin America, and by Bergogolio’s own history in Argentina during the Dirty War. While Pope Francis’s ascension to the petrine throne may signal some change in the manner in which the papacy is lived out in front of the world, will it engender real, substantive changes in the Catholic Church, and its worldwide following?
By choosing a Pope from the order of the Society of Jesus — or the Jesuits, as they are called — the conclave made a choice that many thought could never happen. Founder of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius of Loyola, believed that the quest for ecclesiastical dignities such as bishoprics would stifle the work of the Jesuits, whose order was to promote the gospel across the world. The Jesuits would follow the normal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but also added language about the special care of the instruction of children and “a special Obedience to the Sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions according to the apostolic letters and constitutions.” The Jesuit vow of service and obedience to the pope did not always keep them in good stead with the papacy, however. The order would grow in numbers and missions around the world from its inception in 1540. Later, as a result of rumors and the fear of power of the Jesuit order, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the order from 1773 until its restoration in 1814.
Before the suppression, the order would come to Latin America — first to Brazil, and then to other countries, including Argentina. The Jesuit missions to the Guariani peoples brought education, a university, and publication of books in both Latin and Guarani. The communities that Jesuits established there in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reducciones, were Jesuit missions designed to house the church, the Jesuit Fathers, and the community of Guariani Indians. The remains of these spectacular structures are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When the missions were left unmanned by the Jesuit suppression, Franciscans took over, but not with the same degree of success than Jesuit missionaries had. The missions deteriorated and by the time the Jesuits returned, the missions were abandoned for cities and other ministries.
This backdrop of Jesuit history is important in understanding Cardinal Begoglio’s own history as a Jesuit and his time in Argentina during the Dirty War of the 1970s. Catholic clergy and Latin America has often been liked to liberation theology and the “preferential option for the poor” that Jesuit General Pedro Arrupe outlined in his letter to Jesuits in 1968. How the “preferential option for the poor” was practiced differed between religious orders, countries, and regimes in Latin America. For many priests, the “preferential option” meant embracing the poor, living amongst them, and entering into their struggles. Much like the early Jesuit missionaries, they cast their lot with the people of the land. Others, went further, embracing the Marxist ideals and ideologies that pressed against oppressive military and governmental structures. Yet all did not fully embrace liberation theology. Many priests, like Cardinal Bergoglio helped the poor, yet they remained conservative theologically, and acquiesced to the whims of the military dictatorships in order to save themselves and others.
The questions about Bergoglio’s time as provincial and leader are many, and the allegations of collobration have been denied by Vatican officials in the wake of his election and installment as Pope Francis. Many remain skeptical. Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky has extensively researched the Argentine Dirty War, and believes that Bergoglio’s silence and complicity with the military junta led to the arrest and torture of two Jesuit priests who disobeyed his orders to discontinue their work in the slums. At the time, Bergoglio was the provincial (leader) of the Jesuits in Argentina, the youngest to serve in that position. Bergoglio supporters tell a different story, saying that he tried to help secure the release of the Jesuits priests. The two stories then, form the foundation of the stories about Bergoglio’s time as a young Jesuit in Argentina — either he was complicit with the military junta, or he was a protector, trying to save his priestly charges.
So while the “firsts” about Pope Francis’s election papacy have been widely touted in the news, it is Catholic history, the History of the Jesuits, and the history of then Cardinal Bergoglio that intersect with this historical moment. These histories converge in his person as the culmination of the Catholic Church and the Jesuit mission to Latin America that brought forth education and commerce, but also a destruction of indigenous religion and society. It is a history that bore the fruit of the most innovative parts of liberation theology, and at the same time, the shame of the Catholic Church in crushing that theology and those who believed in it because of the fear of communism. It is this history that Pope Francis holds in his own personal story, that now enters into the Church at a crucial time in its history.
In every way, Pope Francis’s history as a Jesuit, his time in Argentina, and his ascension to the papacy fit into the narrative history of the Catholic Church. Like the church, the pope has a complicated history of activism and presumed complicity with the structures of power. He is traditional in his values, yet seeks to put a face on the church that is friendlier than his predecessor. Time will tell what kind of pope he will eventually be, but if history is any judge, Pope Francis’s many firsts will not be his last, and he may continue to operate as Mary Hunt put it, in a Jesuitical fashion as pope.
About 50 people have reported that the abuses took place in Catholic schools in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio during the period of 1982 to 2007 by Franciscan friar Brother Stephen Baker, who apologized in a note prior to stabbing himself to death on January 26.
Baker’s death came after the disclosure of financial settlements for 11 men, who accused him of sexually abusing them, while he was a teacher and a coach at Catholic John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by numerous scandals in the United States and in Europe over the past few years, involving allegations of covering up sexual abuse of children by priests to protect pedophiles and the Church’s own reputation.
The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Catholic Church. The Pope recently said he would resign from his position on February 28. Reports say the decision came after the Pope learned about the extent of sex and graft scandals inside the Vatican.
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