New pope ‘figure of unity’ for all Catholics, says USCCB president

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Pope Francis I appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis I appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated the newly elected pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who took the name Francis.

Pope Francis I “stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. The bishops of the United States and the people of our 195 dioceses offer prayers for our new leader and promise allegiance to him,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Pope Francis was introduced the church and the world when he walked out on the balcony at 8:22 p.m. local time.

At the Vatican at 7:05 p.m., clouds of white smoke poured from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel March 13, indicating a pope had been elected on the conclave’s fifth ballot.

The 115 cardinal electors, including Cardinal Dolan, who gathered to elect the 266th successor of Peter had taken one vote late March 12 and two votes the next morning, resulting in clouds of black smoke. By the fifth ballot they had selected the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who retired Feb. 28.

“Intense prayer from all around the world surrounded the election of Pope Francis. The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals,” he said.

Cardinal Bergoglio, a 76-year-old Jesuit, was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2001. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital city, Dec. 17, 1936. Ordained a priest Dec. 13, 1969, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in May 1992. On June 3, 1997, he was named coadjutor archbishop. He was installed as the new archbishop of Buenos Aires Feb. 28, 1998.

He was the cardinal with the second-highest number of votes on each of the four ballots in the 2005 conclave.

The election of the Argentine cardinal “marks a great milestone in our church,” Cardinal Dolan said in a statement released in Washington. “With joy in our hearts, we declare ‘Ad Multos Annos!’ (“For many years!)”

1 COMMENT

  1. Cardinal Dolan is correct when he said that Pope Francis “stands as the figure of unity” but the Holy Father needs to be clear what cause we are unifying for. Remember, Christ said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

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