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Vatican introduces Pope Francis

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Ryan Scott Ottney


PDT Staff Writer


Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope, the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.


After announcing “Habemus Papum” — “We have a pope!” — a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.


Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would resign on Feb. 28 because he was too infirm to carry on. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. At the time of his election, he was age 78 and was already planning to retire as the Vatican’s chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.


Pope Benedict was the oldest pope elected in nearly 300 years. Upon his announced resignation, he emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.”


Bergoglio, the 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.


“The Diocese of Columbus joins with all Catholics worldwide in joyful celebration at the election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as His Holiness Pope Francis I,” wrote the Roman Catholic Diocese in Columbus in a released statement. “We are confident his leadership and faith will provide us, as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, before him, with a deeper understanding of Christ’s eternal presence; and serve as an example and constant reminder for us to follow in the Lord’s footsteps.


“The clergy, religious, and faithful of the Diocese of Columbus earnestly pray the new Pope will be blessed by the Holy Spirit with wisdom, fortitude, and courage at he assumes his responsibilities over his flock as leader of the Catholic Church.”


Local Catholic parishes would not comment on Wednesday; instead directing all calls to the Columbus Diocese.


Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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