Tuesday, March 19, 2013
By Stephanie Costantino
Ever since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 11th, the world has been buzzing about who would become the next Pope of the Catholic Church. For the past month, the cardinals of Vatican City have been working hard to elect a new pope, and finally on March 13th, it was decided that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would become the new Pope Francis.
The world was shocked when Pope Benedict XVI, elected as pope in April 2005, announced his resignation from his papal duties. Pope Benedict cited "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his old age as his reason for resigning, and was officially resigned from his papacy on February 28th.
Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. He is also the first to do so by his own choice, the most recent before him being Pope Celestine V in 1294.
After his resignation, the cardinals of Vatican City needed to go through a very elaborate process in order to elect the new pope to succeed Benedict XVI. The cardinals gather and are locked in the Sistine Chapel for voting, where they cast secret ballots every day until a new Pope is elected.
Nine cardinals’ names are selected at random: three of them serve as voting judges, or “scrutineers”, three collect the votes of any cardinals who are absent due to sickness, and three “revisers” look over the work of the scrutineers. Each cardinal writes down on a paper ballot who they believe is fit to be the new pope. Once this is finished, the scrutineers read over each ballot and check each name. They count the votes to see if anyone has gotten the majority they need to be elected, and the revisers check for any possible mistakes. If the votes are inconclusive, the votes are burned and black smoke is visible from the Sistine Chapel. Once the pope has been elected, the ballots are burned and this time white smoke is visible.
On March 13th, the white smoke was seen in the Vatican City when Pope Francis was elected. Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he served as priest when he was ordained in 1969. In 1998, he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, after previously serving as the head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina from 1973-1979. In 2001, he became a cardinal.
When Bergoglio was elected, he chose the papal name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis is 76 years old and is reportedly in good health. Pope Francis is the first of many new occurrences in papal history. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope to come from the Americas, and the first pope to be from the southern hemisphere. Being a Jesuit, and believing in the ideals of living simply, Francis dressed in a plain white robe instead of a red one, and preferred to ride in a minibus with his fellow cardinals instead of a private car.
Many people are reacting in different ways to the new Jesuit pope, because it is so much different than Pope Benedict before him. Some are finding it difficult to adjust to the change, but others, such as Father Spadaro, an editor of La Civilta Cattolica, which is a Jesuit journal in Rome, believe “It’s a good chance for us to help people to understand better our spirituality.”