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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chosen as new pope

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected the next pope, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced Wednesday night from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. He is the first South American pope. Until last year, Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before stepping down because of his age. He is 76.

The new pontiff, the Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, is taking the name Francis.

He replaces Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February.

WGN-TV’s Dina Bair is live with the latest from St Peter’s Square.

How does the papal conclave work? Dina Bair explains here.

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Pope Francis said Monday that he will not “judge” gays and lesbians – including gay priests – signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church’s approach to historically marginalized groups.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.

Though he was answering a question about the so-called “gay lobby” at the Vatican, the pope seemed to signal a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church’s stance towards gays and lesbians more generally.

The pope was flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he spent the past week celebrating World Youth Day, an international Catholic event that drew millions.

Taking questions from reporters aboard the plane, the pope addressed nearly every hot-button issue facing the Roman Catholic Church: its alleged “gay lobby,” Vatican bank corruption, the role of women, abortion, homosexuality and his own personal security.

But it was the pope’s remarks on homosexuality – the head of a 1 billion-member church saying that he will not judge gays – that caused the widest stir.

pope-francis3-carousel“Pope Francis’s brief comment on gays reveals great mercy,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America, a Catholic magazine based in New York.

Martin noted that Francis also showed “greater compassion for divorced and remarried Catholics, a group that has long felt marginalized in the church, and called for a `deeper theology’ on the role of women in the church.”

“Today Pope Francis has, once again, lived out the Gospel message of compassion for everyone,” Martin said.

The pontiff spoke on the record for an hour and a half in the back of the plane that was carrying him back to Italy after his first international trip as pope to Brazil, where he was greeted by massive, frenzied crowds at every turn.

“I’m happy. It has been a beautiful trip, spiritually speaking; it has been good to me. I’m tired enough but with a heart full of joy,” he said.

On Sunday, the mayor’s office in Rio de Janeiro said more than 3 million people came to Copacabana Beach for a morning Mass with Francis, who was in Brazil for the weeklong World Youth Day celebration.

Security issues plagued the trip because of Francis’ immense popularity as the first Latin America pope. His arriving motorcade was mobbed after a wrong turn, prompting the Brazilian military to raise the trip’s security level to “high risk” and send in reinforcements to protect the pontiff, who insisted on being close to the people.

“There is always the danger that there is the crazy person, and we never know what he or she will do,” Francis said. “But to create a safety barrier between the bishop and its people is insane. And I’m outside this security. I prefer the risks of the madness outside, to be close to the people.”

On the ‘gay lobby’ and homosexuality

The pope addressed the issue of an alleged “gay lobby” within the church. Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The “Vatileaks” scandal factored in Benedict’s shocking decision to resign this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card!” Francis said.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

The problem, he said was, lobbies that work against the interest of the church.

In 2005, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued directives barring from the priesthood men “who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Francis’ brief remarks seem to signal a sharp shift from that policy.

On women

The pope also spoke out about the role of women in the church, saying it needs to be deeper and not end. But he brushed aside the possibility of ordaining women as priests, saying the church had spoken on the matter: “The church says no. That door is closed.” He did say that more work needed to be done theologically on the role of women in the church.

On abortion

Pope watchers have noted that Francis said little to nothing about abortion on his trip to Brazil. Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except for cases in which the health of the mother is at risk. Laws were recently changed to allow abortions in cases in which the child would be born with certain life-threatening birth defects.

The pope said he had nothing to say on the trip about abortion because the church teachings against it were clear and this trip was the time for “positive” news.

On divorce

“I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch,” the pope said when asked about divorce. He said the group of eight cardinals tasked with reform will explore the issue of whether divorcees can receive Communion, which they are currently barred from doing.

On the Vatican Bank

The pope conceded he was unsure what to do with the Vatican Bank, which is known by its acronym IOR.

“Some say that it would be better if it were a bank, others say that it should be a foundation. Other say to shut it down. These are the suggestions going around. I don’t know. I trust the commission’s members that are working on the IOR. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you how this story is going to end.”

And as for what was in the black leather bag he carried onto the plane? A razor, a prayer book, a diary and a book about St. Theresa, but, the pope joked, “Certainly not the keys to the atomic bomb!”

He said he carried his own bags because “It’s normal, we have to be normal. We have to be accustomed to being normal.”

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Cardinal Francis George held Palm Sunday mass this morning Holy Name Cathedral, his first since returning from Rome and the Papal Conclave.

The Cardinal blessed palms for the hundreds gathered inside and celebrated the new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Pope Francis, and the selection of his name, after St. Francis of Assissi was a focus of today’s message on this the beginning of Holy Week.   It’s a name Cardinal George says displays a set of priorities for the pope`s future work within the church and one he was surprised was chosen.

“It wasn’t so much a surprise in the end,” he said.  “He was obviously the best one we could choose but the big surprise was when we asked ‘What name do you give yourself?’ and he said ‘Francis.’ I said this is something different. This is my name.”

Parishioners welcomed the Cardinal home and are excited by the new leadership.

And as celebrations continue this week ahead of Easter, Cardinal George asks all to remember the good, beyond the celebrations.

“What I’m hearing is that Catholics are pretty happy with it.  But we’ll see.  There are a few hard decisions coming along.  Be nice to him now but be nice to him three months from now too,” he said.

Today, Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio officially became Pope Francis.

Pope Francis was formally installed as head of the planet’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, promising great inroads on behalf of the world’s poor.

200,000 faithful packed St Peter’s Square for the inaugural mass.  Striking the tone of humility, fast becoming a trademark of his papacy, Pope Francis offered a pledge to serve “the poorest, the weakest, the least important.”

“We are all protectors of creation, of the plan of God written in nature,” he said.  “Protectors of one another, of the environment.”

The homily was given in Italian, thousands receive communion and in an especially poignant moment, the Pope, driven through the crowd, steps from his car, and offered an embrace to a disabled man.

There were also greetings for the first Roman Catholic vice president in American history, Joe Biden.  Biden was among the scores of dignitaries from around the globe that was on hand for the mass.

Signs of the new pontiff’s commitment to simplicity abound. Rather than accepting the traditional gold fisherman’s ring, Francis insisted on one forged from silver.”

Seated on a throne under a canopy in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis implored those visiting world leaders to protect not just the environment, but all human life; to use tenderness to inspire hope.

A new poll out tonight finds the new pope is making a very good first impression on American Catholics, amid optimism that he has the potential to turn the corner on past scandals and revitalize the Catholic Church.

It was with a call for the protection of the weakest in society that Francis was officially inaugurated Tuesday as the Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff, before a crowd of tens of thousands bathed in sunlight.

Giving his homily before the throngs in St. Peter’s Square, Francis showed the humility and concern for ordinary people that have been noted since he became the first Latin American to be elected pope six days ago.

Before he spoke, he was given the official symbols of his papacy: a lamb’s wool shawl, to represent his role as “the good shepherd,” and the Fisherman’s Ring, to represent his role of spreading the gospel.

The ring is not solid gold like that of his predecessors, but made of gold-plated silver — again reflecting his desire for simplicity.

The pope delivered his homily in Italian, rooted in a message of looking after the poor and sick, as well as the natural world.

He reflected first on the symbolism of the date: this is the day that Catholics celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph to honor Jesus’ father on Earth, the carpenter Joseph.

Francis spoke of Joseph’s role in protecting not only Jesus and Mary, but also the church.

He spoke too of the need to protect “all creation, the beauty of the created world” as instructed by the Bible and shown by St. Francis of Assisi, whose name he took as pope.

This, he said, “means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”

He warned of the consequences if people do not look after one another.

“Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.”

And he urged those in power to live up to their duties, and to all to avoid evil, hatred and pride.

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment,” he said.

Kissing babies

After his homily, 500 priests dispensed communion to the throngs of locals, pilgrims, tourists and dignitaries gathered for the historic occasion.

Between 150,000 and 200,000 people turned out in and around St. Peter’s Square, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman. Police in the area told CNN there were fewer people than expected but declined to give an estimate.

Pope Francis earlier made his way into the square atop an open-top vehicle, spending 17 minutes circling among the crowds in bright sunshine.

He wore the simple iron cross that he’s had since he was appointed bishop and that he had on when he first appeared to the world as pope. And he chose black shoes rather than the red ones favored by Benedict XVI.

When the gathered faithful held up babies and young children for him to kiss, he obliged. He also stepped out of his sport utility vehicle to kiss the head of a man with a physical disability.

Even though at least a dozen security officers in suits walked alongside the SUV as he circled the square, his decision to bypass the Popemobile, which his last two predecessors used, was telling.

The Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV afforded him the kind of direct contact with people he has embraced since becoming pope.

Had he been in the Popemobile, he would have been behind bulletproof glass, which was installed in 1981 after an assassination attempt on John Paul II.

Filipino priest and CNN iReporter Joel Camaya, who was among those in St. Peter’s Square, was enthralled by the spectacle, and the contrasting humility, of the newly elected pontiff.

“The Pope spoke with such passion and force that the words exuded life and thus, as he spoke, there were instances of spontaneous applause,” he said. “In the piazza, people who haven’t even known each other exchanged smiles, happy that they belonged to one big family.”

Francis called his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Monday afternoon to wish him well on the day of the Feast of St. Joseph and to thank him again for his service. Benedict, in turn, said he had been following the events since Francis’ selection closely and assured his closeness in prayer.

Style or substance?

The Mass which inaugurated Francis as bishop of Rome and marked the official start of his papacy was short, lasting about two hours. This was in keeping with the spirit of simplicity embraced by the new pontiff, the Vatican said before the occasion.

Francis has already made an impression as a pope of the people who is concerned about the welfare of the poor. But he inherits a church wracked by a decades-old sexual abuse scandal and claims of corruption in the clergy.

Monsignor Kevin Irwin told CNN the Catholic Church probably would not have to wait long before the changes in style already seen under Francis become changes in substance.

“It comes down to personnel,” he said. “The personnel changes you make in any corporation make all the difference. Leadership matters — but then who are the other people who help implement his program?”

The Vatican said Saturday that Francis had provisionally confirmed members of the Vatican hierarchy in their positions, but would take time to reflect before any final appointments are confirmed.

Irwin said he believes the key changes are likely to come in the late spring or early summer.

Francis, as a member of the Jesuit order, “gets into things” and is tenacious, he said. “This is a ‘take-charge’ pope, I would say.”

World figures

Back in St. Peter’s Basilica, the newly installed bishop of Rome greeted the dignitaries who had flocked from around the world to attend the inauguration Mass.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, from Francis’ native Argentina, was the first head of state to step up.

Vice President Joe Biden, leading the U.S. presidential delegation, was also among those to meet the 76-year-old pope, as was Zimbabwe’s controversial President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is subject to a European Union travel ban but allowed to visit the continent for religious events and international conferences.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — effectively the Vatican’s prime minister — was at the pope’s side as, standing, he gave his greetings for close to an hour and a half.

The formal encounters over, Francis then went to the barriers around the sides of the basilica to greet priests, nuns and other well-wishers.

In his first tweet after his inauguration on the @Pontifex account, Pope Francis said: “Let us keep a place for Christ in our lives, let us care for one another and let us be loving custodians of creation.”

He then tweeted again: “True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.”

Argentines watch Mass

Back in Francis’ home city, the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, the faithful packed the main square to watch the event on large screens set up throughout the Plaza de Mayo.

According to the state-run newspaper Telam, a telephone call Francis had made from the Vatican was played to all present, saying: “Thanks for the prayers.”

He added, “Let us be aware of one another, care for life, nature, children and old people,” before concluding by asking those present to pray for him.

Groups also gathered in other cities throughout Argentina to watch the early morning Mass, Telam reported.

The event in St. Peter’s Square was attended by 132 delegations from around the world, including six reigning sovereigns and 31 heads of state.

Those delegations are among scores from nations and international organizations traveling to the Vatican, led by heads of states and governments.

European Union leaders Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy were among those present.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi accompanied Biden in the U.S. delegation, the White House said. On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said he would send a separate bipartisan congressional delegation.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, in a letter sent to Francis on Tuesday, offered the “deep affection, prayerful support and sincere pledge of fidelity” of the U.S. bishops and more than 70 million Catholics in the country.

Also at the Vatican were groups from the Americas, including Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Canada, and from European nations such as Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Representatives from across Christianity — Eastern and Western — were also present, along with members of other religions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

This is also one of the busiest times of the year on the Christian calendar, which will mean many public appearances for the new pontiff.

Less than a week away is Palm Sunday, the holiday that kicks off Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations.

The Vatican press office said Francis will also have one other task to keep him busy: figuring out “how to answer the millions of e-mail messages that have already been received, despite the fact that he still doesn’t have an official address.”
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Through a square bustling with tourists, locals, pilgrims and dignitaries, Pope Francis made his way atop an open-top vehicle on Tuesday en route to a Mass that will officially inaugurate him Bishop of Rome.

He wore the simple iron cross he wore as a cardinal and which he had on when he first appeared to the world as pope.

When the gathered faithful at St. Peter’s Square held up babies and young children for him to kiss, he obliged.

He also stepped out of his sports utility vehicle to kiss the head of a man with a physical disability.

Even though at least a dozen security officers in suits walked alongside the SUV as he circled the square, his decision to bypass the Popemobile, which his last two predecessors used, was telling.

The Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV afforded him the kind of direct contact with people he has embraced since becoming pope.

Had he been in the Popemobile, he would have been behind bulletproof glass, which was installed in 1981 after an assassination attempt on John Paul II.

The ceremony — the “Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome” — will be short in keeping with the spirit of simplicity embraced by the new Holy Father, the Vatican has said, lasting about two hours.

Francis has already made an impression as a pope of the people, who is concerned about the welfare of the poor. But he inherits a church wracked by a decades-old sexual abuse scandal and claims of corruption in the clergy.

‘Protect all creation’

Francis then took part in ceremonies within St. Peter’s Basilica, before emerging once more in solemn procession before the massed crowds in the square.

There he was presented first with a lamb’s wool shawl, known as the pallium, to represent his role as “the good shepherd,” then with the symbolic Fisherman’s Ring, to represent his role of spreading the gospel.

The ring is not solid gold like that of this predecessors but made of gold-plated silver — again reflecting his desire for simplicity.

The Mass, which marks the official start of Francis’ papacy, is now under way before the massed crowds.

The pope delivered his homily in Italian, rooted in a message of looking after the weakest in society and the environment.

He reflected first on the symbolism of the date: Tuesday is the day that Catholics celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph to honor Jesus’ father on Earth, the carpenter Joseph.

Francis spoke of Joseph’s role in protecting not only Jesus and Mary, but also the church.

“Joseph is a ‘protector’ because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping,” he said.

“He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.”

Francis spoke also of the need to protect “all creation, the beauty of the created world” as instructed by the Bible and shown by St. Francis of Assisi, his namesake as pope.

This, he said, “means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”

He warned of the consequences if people do not look after one another.

“Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.”

And he urged those in power to live up to their duties, and to all to avoid evil, hatred and pride.

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

Argentines watch Mass

Back in Francis’ home city, the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, the faithful packed the main square to watch the Mass on large screens set up throughout the Plaza de Mayo.

According to state-run newspaper Telam, a telephone call Francis had made from the Vatican was played to all present, saying: “Thanks for the prayers.”

He added, “Let us be aware of one another, care for life, nature, children and old people,” before concluding by asking those present to “pray for him.”

Groups also gathered in other cities throughout Argentina to watch the early morning Mass, Telam reported.

Dignitaries in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass include European Union leaders Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of the pope’s native Argentina, and Zimbabwe’s controversial President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe is subject to an EU travel ban but allowed to visit the continent for religious events and international conferences.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is leading the U.S. presidential delegation for the Mass, the White House said Friday, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also among the party.

On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said he would send a separate bipartisan congressional delegation.

A week of ceremonies

Those delegations are among scores from nations and international organizations traveling to the Vatican, led by heads of states and governments.

Delegations are also on hand from Italy and the pope’s native Argentina.

There are other groups from the Americas, including Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Canada, and European nations such as Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Representatives from across Christianity — Eastern and Western — will also be present, as will members of other religions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

This is also one of the busiest times of the year on the Christian calendar, which will mean many public appearances in series for the new pontiff.

Less than a week away is Palm Sunday, the holiday that kicks off Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations.

Hada Messia reported from Rome, Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London and Ben Brumfield wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Marilia Brocchetto, Dugald McConnell, Brian Todd, Claudia Rebaza and Jason Hanna also contributed to this report.

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Pope Francis met at the Vatican on Monday with the leader of his native Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner — a figure with whom Francis clashed publicly in the past over social issues.

The Argentine president is among a number of world leaders scheduled to be at the Vatican for Francis’ inauguration on Tuesday.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis clashed with the Argentine government over his opposition to same-sex marriage and free distribution of contraceptives. But she sent a letter congratulating him as he assumed his new role.
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Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George is still in Rome where he spoke one-on-one with WGN’s Dina Bair about the new Pope, and the Pope’s plans for the future.

Pope Francis gave his first Sunday blessing this morning to the more than 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Dozens of flags from Francis’s native Argentina were waving in the crowd.

The new pontiff delivered the Angelus prayer from the window of his papal apartment.

Pope Francis will formally be installed as the new leader of the world’s Roman Catholics Tuesday.

A U.S. delegation, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will attend the Tuesday ceremony.

Pope Francis met with journalists from around the world for the first time Saturday. As leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, he indicated that he wants a church that is both poor, and in service to the poor.

Day 1 and new Pope’s humble personality on display.

WGN’s Dina Bair is in Rome with the full story.

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