Masses of Catholics and non-Catholics alike tuned in for the announcement and appearance of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th Supreme Roman Pontiff. It was a singular media moment that was watched, listened to, shared, tweeted -- and won't soon be forgotten.
There is still much to learn about the 76-year-old Argentine, and much more to see and share. But for now, here's how the arrival of Pope Francis was covered by newspapers around the world.
The president of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference Monseñor Salvador Piñeiro appeared touched upon the election of the new pope: “500 years ago America received the Faith, and today we are exporting a Pope. What joy to know that he speaks our language. He knows about the difficulties and limitations of America, and has great faith”, reports El Comercio. Pope Francisco “knows us, and loves us. He is a man of solid formation, very simple, near to us and also a jokester!”
Noticias Terra reports on the joy of Chilean Jesuits that the new pontiff is the first Jesuit and Latin America to take the position. In 1958, when Bergoglio was 22 years old, he began his novitiate in The Society of Jesus in the capital of Santiago. “He studied in Chile because at the time, the Jesuit philosophy, which is the first part of the novitiate formation was done in our country,” explains Jesuit priest Paul Mackenzie.
Costa Rican daily El Pais reports that María Eugenia Venegas, member of the Chamber of Deputies of Costa Rica was not celebrating Bergoglio’s Papacy. She explained that she couldn’t congratulate the leader of a Church that does not bring opportunities for women to participate equally within the institution. According to the daily, in 2007 upon Cristina Kirchner’s election, Bergoglio was said to have commented that “women are naturally inept to take political posts. The natural order and facts of history show us that man is the political being by excellency; the Scriptures demonstrate that women have always been a support to the thinking and doing man, but not more than that.”
The Archbishop of Bucaramanga, Colombia, Monseñor Ismael Rueda Sierra recognized that listening to the announcement of a new Latin American pope was as surprising as hearing about Benedict XVI’s resignation. “He is a very close pastor, very cordial person and sensible to the needs of the people,” according to Vanguardia.
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In his native country, Clarin reports on Bergoglio's often tense relations with the country's last two Presidents, the husband-and-wife team of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner. Nestor Kirchner, who stepped down in 2007 and died in 2010, had once referred to the Archbishop of Buenos Aires as: “the true representative of the opposition.” More recently, Bergoglio has clashed with President Cristina Kirchner after she signed into law a measure to legalize gay marriage.
El Diario Veloz spoke with Patricia Bullrich, a Buenos Aires member of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies who said of Francis: “He is an amazing person. Sometimes hard on the government, but because he is trying to help.”
“Dios Mio!” and “Erring is Divine" were the headlines in Pagina 12, references to accusations against Bergoglio for complicity with the Argentinian military dictatorphip and his rocky rapport with Kirchner governments. The paper also noted that he has been a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage, sexual education policies and birth control.
Corriere della Sera analyses the significance of Bergoglio taking the name Francis, saying it sends a signal to the world that the proclaimed poverty of St. Francis of Assisi will be at the center of the Church's message. In other words: Francis means "dialogue." Italy's Chief Rabbi Giuseppe Laras sent a message of congratulations to the new pontiff: “The difficulties and troubles in our times require guides with strong faith, animated by intense feelings and profound humanity.”
Andrea Tornielli writes in La Stampa that Bergoglio has always denounced the risk for the Church being self-referential: “If the Church remains closed off, it will become old and out-dated," Bergoglio had once said. "If the choice is a Church on a bumpy road or a Church ailing because it is self-referential – I do not doubt that I would choose the first one.”
Vittorio Messori writes in Corriere that the choice of the Argentinian was a geopolitical one – exactly like that of Wojtyla. While Polish Pope John Paul II was chosen to rescue the faithful from the godlessness of Communism, Bergoglio was chosen to respond to the Church's losing ground to younger, more vibrant Evangelical movements in the southern part of the world, and Latin America in particular.
La Repubblica writes that Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin – near the town that Bergoglio’s father emigrated from in the Piedmont region – said “The Holy Father, who by name has chosen the humble Saint of Assisi, will know how to bring an air of renewal, thanks to his origins of a continent in which the Church is young and open to a future of great spiritual and pastoral growth. As piemontesi we’re very proud that the family of Pope Francis comes from our region. I feel in my heart - I believe everyone feels the same way - a great relief, because we’re coming out of particularly complex and difficult times. This election gave the sense that the Church is looking forward with a renewed hope in God and, in the successor of Peter, they find their rock on which they can renew the faith in Christ and the communion of the entirety of God’s people.”
The Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, writes that the new pope has demonstrated humility and is considered to be pro-reform – but that these plus points are undermined by his not having openly denounced the 1976-1983 Argentine military Junta, and according to some alleged complicity in its crimes. The newspapers talks about the pope’s conservative views on contemporary issues such as gay marriage, which he has described as “an attempt to destroy God's plan.”
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Die Welt considers the election of a Pope from South America a highly symbolic step away from Euro-centrism. Yet, says the newspaper, the pope’s age – 76 – is a sign the cardinals don’t expect him to occupy the office for so long he has a chance to “personalize” it. Cardinal Bergoglio’s choice of name, Francis – in reference to St. Francis of Assisi, saint of the poor – signals that he identifies with the everyman and not the hierarchy. If his task is to nurture and re-ignite the spirit of Catholicism in the hearts of the faithful, it is also to bring about reforms.
"This is a strong symbol, which marks a shift in the Church's center of gravity," writes Le Monde in its editorial. "Today, four out of ten Catholics are Latin American. Latin America has 200 million more Catholics than the Old Continent does. This change is of historical significance. Never, in a thousand years, has the Catholic Church been guided by a non-European. Europe loses one more monopoly. The South's momentum is truly a sign of the times. The successor of the German Pope Benedict XVI personifies the "emerging" world, the countries who are on the front lines in regard to development, equality and governance."
Der Standard writes that Francis represents a new chance for the Roman Catholic Church, and that by choosing this name the Jesuit clearly wants to steer away from being identified with the intellectualism associated with his order. “But the first, biggest and most difficult area of endeavor for the new Pope is not making changes based on issues close to the heart of western Church members – it’s making changes within Vatican walls. The Vatileaks affair has by no means been fully addressed. One can only assume that Vatileaks played a role in the choice of new Pope, and it is entirely possible that some of the old favorites for the position were left out because they were involved in intrigue and corruption. The curia – the ‘government’ of the Roman Catholic Church – needs a thorough clean-out and only when that has been done and things have settled down can Pope Francis turn to religious reforms.”
Under the title “’Revolution’ in the Church: Francis Ushers in a New Era,” Die Presse writes that the papal election was full of surprises: not only did the elections end more quickly than was expected, but the new Pope is the first non-European, the first Jesuit, and first Francis. On stepping out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Francis asked the faithful gathered on the square to pray for him. But what few know is that Cardinal Bergoglio was a “runner-up” in the previous papal election, and that Milan’s Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who in his last interview before his death stressed the urgent necessity of widespread reform in the Catholic Church, was a big supporter of his. But in 2005 the time wasn’t ripe – the cardinals couldn’t yet free themselves from the John Paul II era. Yesterday, that era ended definitively. A new era has begun for the 1,2 billion members of the Catholic Church.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sums up Argentine press reports, noting that many leading papers criticize the fact that Bergoglio never denounced the dictatorship but express satisfaction that Pope Francis is an opponent of the Kirchner regime. The newspaper writes that “in conjunction with the papal election it is constantly referred to in the Argentine press that Argentina is a country that takes its identity from those who migrate to it.”
The Zurich-based Tages-Anzeiger records that the “most emotional” reaction in Switzerland’s to the new Pope came from an information officer at the Vicariate General of Cantons Zurich and Glarus. “The new Pope touched me with the very first thing he said,” Arnold Landtwing told the paper. Francis’s jovial, crowd-pleasing “Buona sera” and “Buona note” were “sensational,” he said: “I never before saw a Pope do that from the balcony after election.” Synodal Council President Benno Schnüriger also expressed satisfaction that the new Pope was close to the people: “If he listens at grass roots level, and talks so that we can understand him, that would already be a lot.”
Geneva-based Le Temps opines that the choice of new Pope appears to be a compromise, and that the fact the elections were over so quickly could be a sign not of agreement but the opposite, with some factions preferring to distance themselves from battle rather than risking victory of another camp. “The age of the new Pope aligns with this possibility. So the transition papacy of Joseph Ratzinger looks as if it’s going to continue for lack of a major player to kick off a new era – although the honor was refused to the Milanese Angelo Scola, considered too close to the former Pope.” But what this means is that the hoped-for change has not taken place. The magnitude of the crisis besetting Catholics may well have paralyzed the cardinals, and that faced with the option of real change they balked. “Thus, torn between the will to reform a mismanaged curia and the partisans of continuity, the Sacred College opted for a foreign pontiff also foreign to the ways of the Vatican but not radically opposed to the practices of the Holy See.”
The press coverage in the Arab world was mostly limited to initial reports of Wednesday's news: Al-Quds al -Arabi, the pan-Arabic, London-based daily headlined: "World leaders welcome the election of the first pope of the catholic church coming from Latin America." Egypt's Al-Masry al-Youm referred to Bergoglio's first remarks when he noted that the cardinals went to the "edge of the world" to find a new pope.
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Manila Archbiship Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Thursday said he has spoken to the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who said he has high hopes for the Philippines reports ABS-CBNnews. Tagle, one of those considered for the position of pope, urged Filipinos to join the Catholic Church and the world "in thanking God for His special gift in the extraordinary person of Pope Francis." "When I approached Pope Francis to assure him of the closeness and collaboration of the Filipinos, he said, "I have high hopes for the Philippines. May your faith prosper, as well as your devotion to Our Lady and mission to the poor,"" he said. "What a compelling message from this humble man of God! All praise and glory to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," he added.
Africa will have to wait to see one of their own appointed says Le Faso. Bergoglio, the outsider, was an intellectual before he became a priest. Nevertheless, the paper declared that the Argentinian Pope was close to Africa because he comes from a continent that shares many similarities with it: social, economic andpolitical similarities, but also a certain religious fervor. "So welcome to this pope who looks like us!," the paper wrote.
His papal name honors St. Francis of Assisi writes the Washington Post, but at the same time, in the age of 24-hour news cycles and the cult of celebrity excess, he is described by some as so retro that it’s oddly new. He represents a flashback to an old-school view of the Catholic leaders as humble, soft-spoken clerics who walked among their flock and led by example — though he has also used the Internet as a tool to reach lapsed Catholics.
“He knows how to take a municipal bus,” said the Rev. Robert Pelton, the director of Latin American/North American Church Concerns at the University of Notre Dame. “When he became a local ordinary of Buenos Aires, he moved from a large, impressive home to a modest dwelling. He has a sense of social justice, but he can be seen as quite conservative doctrinally. The fact is that he has a straightforwardness and simplicity that is quite unusual in public figures of our time.”