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'Here I Am'

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By Felix Carroll (Mar 13, 2013)
The Church has a new Holy Father — the first-ever pope from the Americas, the first-ever Jesuit pope, and the first-ever pope who has taken the name "Francis."

What won't be a first is having a Holy Father who supports the message of Divine Mercy.

Indeed, Pope Francis, elected today as the Catholic Church's 266th pontiff, takes over where Pope Benedict XVI and Blessed John Paul II left off. He's a Divine Mercy apostle, and an early supporter of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, held in Rome in 2008. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he addressed the Congress during the five-day gathering seven years ago that drew thousands of Divine Mercy apostles from around the world.

"It is my belief that he recognizes the importance of the Divine Mercy message for the world today," said the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians' Provincial Superior of the United States and Argentina. "He recognizes it, and that's why, right from the beginning, he supported the Congress whole-heartedly."

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception — official promoters of the Divine Mercy message and devotion since 1941 — helped organize the Congress, which was kicked off by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square.

Saint Peter's Square took center stage again today as white smoke rose over the Sistine Chapel, signaling the election of a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. After less than 24 hours of deliberation, the 115 voting cardinals reached a conclusion — choosing 76-year-old Cardinal Bergoglio.

"From what I'm hearing from my theologian friends, we're talking about a man who emphasizes the primacy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is exactly what I believe God is calling us to rediscover as Catholics during this Year of Faith," said Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers.

Indeed, in a talk he gave in 2001, shortly after John Paul II elevated him to the cardinalate, Cardinal Bergoglio said, "Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord."

The Cardinal went on to describe Jesus as One who stands ready to forgive all sinners, as "One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a 'never falling down' but an always getting up again."

Bergoglio's choice of name — honoring of the 12th century saint from Assisi who lived in poverty and served the poor — underscores the new Pontiff's reputation for personal simplicity. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace. He also reportedly gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking public transportation, and he cooked his own meals.

Cardinal Bergoglio reportedly came in second during the 2005 balloting that ultimately elected Benedict XVI.

Appearing on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica a little more than an hour after his election, Pope Francis greeted the vast crowd. His first act as Pope was leading a prayer for his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down last month citing health reasons. Next, before blessing the crowd, Pope Francis asked the hundreds of thousands gathered to pray for him.

"He asked them to pray for him first. That, I think, illustrates the man he is. He's a humble man," said Fr. Kaz, who met Cardinal Bergoglio a year ago while on a trip to the Marians' Argentinean Vicariate. "When I met him, I thanked him for his whole-hearted support of the Mercy Congress."

Said Fr. Kaz, the new Holy Father is a man of "prayerfulness, deep faith, concern for the poor, someone with a great pastoral heart, but also someone who understands the administration of the Church."

Indeed, the new Holy Father has held several administrative positions in the Roman Curia, including on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life, and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life.

His native land knows him as a doctrinal conservative and steadfast champion of social justice.

"As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome," said the Pontiff, after stepping out upon the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, "and it seems to me that my brother cardinals went to fetch him at the end of the world. But here I am."

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Magimainathan Mary Chitra, India - Apr 30, 2013

I am very glad for our new Pope, the first Jesuit and Pope named Francis. Our Priest name also Francis who had taken us to Holyland in 2011. I wish Our Pope in this year of faith that he will be our good shepherd to lead us in true faith in Lord Jesus Christ and to love one another not only the troubled but also the troublemakers.

Nancy in Texas - Apr 5, 2013

We need to continually pray for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, that he will be shown MERCY as he begins to bring the Light of Christ into some of the darker places of Holy Mother Church: the problems of very old financial management systems, and that his humility will be an example that will be imitated by those who have perhaps been in the dark for a long time. Long live Pope Francis, in Christ's Mercy & Love!

Rick Scocozza - Mar 21, 2013

I'm very excited to see what Pope Francis brings to our faith. He is our example to follow and his humility and simplicity can really teach us alot. I find him to display many characteristics of Jesus. Love, mercy, compassion, and the desire to be close to God's people.

Mary Lou I. Pimentel - Mar 19, 2013

One of the finest moments that lifted my spirit today, March 19, Feats of st. Joseph and the installation of POPE FRANCIS was his ACT OF MERCY in going down and kissed the disabled person. That...blown my spirit-away for a kind of Pope we will have in him. I am still full of awesomeness in seeing the Merciful Jesus in what he did today. Viva Santo Papa Francisco ! Divine Mercy is alive in you indeed !

Patricia Budd - Mar 14, 2013

I am so happy we have a new holy father who follows the humility and poverty of St Francis.

Rev. A. Edward Moch D.D. - Mar 14, 2013

I give my warm congradulations to The New Pontiff "Pope Fracis I" and the acknowledgement of his support of his continued support of "Divine Mercy" and those involved in it's movement to bring The Roman Catholic Church and their faithful into the 21st. Century.

Brave Blessings to All;

Rev. A. Edward Moch D.D.

Psalm 139v13 - Mar 14, 2013

May God's grace be upon Pope Francis as he leads us through to the Divine Mercy of our Lord and Savious Jesus Christ.
Let us all pray for:
his health,
his love for the church and his people,
his desire to sacrifice his life for the life of the church,
his humbleness to always acknowledge he is God’s servant,
his submission to the greatest purpose as the Vicar of Christ here on earth,
and the glory of God to bless and strengthen him.
All through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Theresa Wong - Mar 14, 2013

Thank yuou GOD we have a humble POPE. Deo Gratiaz

Mary - Mar 14, 2013

I was so happy to hear the good news,and was praying my rosary saying " Jesus I Trust in You" Pope Who all of a sudden news flash we have a Pope,my words were Thank you Jesus.So I say Pope Francis you are in my prayers,in my chaplet to Divine Mercy I have a strong feeling you are GREAT, God Bless You and Let Our Lady of Fatima keep you with the Mantle as I end my note may i say,,"In the name of the Father,and of the Son,and of the Holy Spirit Amen amen

usa - Mar 14, 2013

I'am bery happy w have a pope May Bles him iwill continue to pray for see I;am

MA - Mar 14, 2013

I am very glad that we have a new pope in Pope Francis 1. Let us all keep him in our prayers and may Our Almighty Lord God always bless him.

Sally - Mar 14, 2013

I am happy for our Holy Father Pope Francis I I will prayer for him that God will help to lead us

Edgar - Mar 13, 2013

We need a Pope that will work towards the spreading of the Divine Mercy message around the world. I pray and hope Pope Francis will do this.

Helen - Mar 13, 2013

I'm very happy by what I've just read about our new pope, Francis I. God bless him, I will pray for him.