Low-key Pope leads troubled Church

Pope Francis begins his papacy in the face of controversies like Vatileaks. What challenges await him?

MANILA, Philippines – The conclave of cardinals elects a new pope Thursday morning, March 14. The new pope emerges from the balcony, but few in the crowd know him. 

He is the cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and he assumes the name of a saint famous for his humility and poverty – Francis.

Paterno Esmaquel reports. (Watch video report below.)

(The script of the video report follows.)

It’s the end of a historic conclave, but no one sees it coming.

For the first time, cardinals elect a low-key Jesuit Latin American to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

The 76-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, addresses a Church that faces calls for transparency, simplicity, and greater attention to developing countries.

In his speech, Pope Francis stuns the public with his humility.

He chooses the name “Francis,” which many believe comes from St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th century friar who shunned a privileged life and lived in poverty.

The unassuming Francis begins his papacy by asking the public a favor.

POPE FRANCIS: And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

At a time of rising secularism, the Pope calls for love and mutual trust among Catholics.

POPE FRANCIS: Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

The son of a rail worker, Francis is known for his humility and love for the poor.

Religious writer Sergio Rubin describes him as “conservative at the level of doctrine, and progressive on social issues.”

In an interview on Rappler’s #TalkThursday, Loyola House of Studies rector Fr Joe Quilongquilong says Pope Francis will make a positive impact on developing countries.  Quilongquilong recounts the Pope’s reputation in Buenos Aires.

FR JOE QUILONGQUILONG, RECTOR, LOYOLA HOUSE OF STUDIES: He lived a very simple lifestyle. He refused to stay in the bishop’s palace in Argentina. He takes the public transportation. Even, one time, I think in one of the reports, he even cooks his own meals. So, in a way, that’s one way to connect with the ordinary people. This sense of solidarity that he knows the conditions of the poor and the ordinary life.

Pope Francis begins his papacy in the face of controversies like Vatileaks. The challenge now for the first Third World pope: to keep the Church simple and closer to people.

Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila

– Rappler.com

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