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New Pope Francis has ‘unprecedented’ start comment (0)

March 21, 2013

New Pope Francis has ‘unprecedented’ start

ROME — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s decision to be the first pope to take the name Francis was clearly meant to send a powerful message — one that the cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square seemed to grasp immediately as French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced the name from the balcony of the basilica March 13.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, Federico Lombardi, explained that the pope chose his name after Francis of Assisi, the saint of the poor who preached a radical return to the gospel to a medieval church steeped in pomp, luxury and power struggles with worldly leaders.

“Unprecedented” seems to be the word most frequently used to describe the initial actions of the new pope, formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires. Not only is he the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit pope and the first non-European pope in more than a millennium, Francis seems to be the first pope bent on shaking the ritualized world of Vatican traditions and taboos.

But observers predict he will lead as a traditionalist. Francis has taken stands with the Argentinian government in support of traditional marriage and the sanctity of life, CNN reported. He succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who abdicated in February after an eight-year pontificate. The Argentine-born Francis is the son of an Italian railway worker and is known as a compassionate conservative, according to NBC News. Reports indicate he was the runner-up during the balloting in 2005 that elected Benedict.

“The 76-year-old Jesuit prizes simplicity and humility and would encourage priests to do shoe-leather evangelization, his biographer says,” NBC News reported. In Buenos Aires, he championed the poor, lived simply, cooked his own meals and used mass transit.

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