Francis celebrates Sistine Chapel Mass with cardinals


LIVE: Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Sistine Chapel

Pope Francis has celebrated his first Mass since becoming the Catholic Church's head, giving a homily in front of cardinals in the Sistine Chapel.

"I would like all of us... to have the courage to walk in the presence of God," he said, speaking in Italian.

Earlier, the pontiff said private prayers at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, after which he met children and commuters heading to work.

He was also starting the process of appointing senior staff at the Vatican.

As the first Latin American - and the first Jesuit - pope, Francis has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world.


Pope Francis will deal with the problems of his Church first of all prayerfully rather than as a CEO coming in with a new broom.

But the fact that the new Pope will meet the media before anyone else at a special audience on Saturday morning shows a vivid awareness that prayer may not be enough to deal with the situation facing the Catholic Church at this critical moment in its long history.

Francis is a Jesuit, a member of perhaps the most powerful and experienced religious order of the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are expert communicators and it is significant that one of the first people summoned to meet the new Pope this morning was Father Federico Lombardi, head of Vatican Radio (run for many years by the Jesuits) and the Vatican Press Office.

Under Pope Benedict, Father Lombardi was a mere functionary who had no direct access to the Pope. He could not pick up the phone and talk things through quickly - he just received orders from the Vatican Secretariat of State. That has now changed overnight.

But the 76-year-old Argentine, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, also faces a series of tough challenges.

The Church has been dogged by infighting and scandals over clerical sex abuse and alleged corruption.

The BBC's David Willey, in Rome, says that Pope Francis becomes head of the Church at a critical moment in its history.

Shunned special car

On Wednesday night, Pope Francis endeared himself to the crowds in St Peter's Square - and underlined his reputation for humility - when he asked them to bless him before blessing them in return from the balcony of the basilica.

The Vatican's account of his first hours in the top job also emphasised Pope Francis's humility, describing how he shunned a special car and security detail provided to take him to the Vatican and travelled on a bus with the other cardinals.

Start Quote

It would be nice for us if he spoke about the Falklands, but I don't expect him to”

End Quote Guillermo Lopez Mirau BBC online user, Argentina

Following his first outing as pope to the Rome basilica on Thursday, Francis went back to the clergy house in a city centre side street where he had been staying ahead of the conclave that elected him on Wednesday.

"He packed his bags and then he went to pay the bill for his room so as to set a good example," said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

He also broke tradition by remaining standing to receive cardinals' acts of homage after his election, instead of sitting in the papal throne, Lombardi said.

On Friday, he will meet all the cardinals, including those aged over 80 who did not take part in the conclave.

On Saturday he will meet the world's media at a special papal audience, an opportunity perhaps to set out some of his global vision, says the BBC's James Robbins in Rome.

A visit to his predecessor Benedict XVI at his retreat at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome is also planned, but will not take place in the next couple of days, Lombardi said.

The visit to Benedict is important, correspondents say, as the existence of a living retired pope has prompted fears of a possible rival power.

Francis will be installed officially in an inauguration Mass on Tuesday 19 March, the Vatican added.

Force of reform?

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio surprised many observers when it was revealed on Wednesday.

Pope Francis

  • Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936 (age 76) in Buenos Aires, of Italian descent
  • Ordained as a Jesuit in 1969
  • Studied in Argentina and Germany
  • Became Cardinal of Buenos Aires in 1998
  • Seen as orthodox on sexual matters but strong on social justice

Although he reportedly came second to Pope Benedict XVI during the 2005 conclave, few had predicted the election of the first pope from outside Europe in 1,300 years.

Pope Francis is regarded as a doctrinal conservative, but he is also seen as a potential force for reform of the Vatican bureaucracy - and analysts say that may have won the support of reforming cardinals.

The new pontiff will certainly come under strong pressure to reform the Curia, the governing body of the Church.

He will also face an array of challenges which include the role of women, interfaith tensions and dwindling congregations in some parts of the world.

The 76-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first Pope to take the name of Francis - reminiscent of Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century Italian reformer and patron saint of animals, who lived in poverty.

Pope Francis From a humble background in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has risen to the head of the Roman Catholic Church as Pope Francis. We look at key moments in his life and career so far.
Faces of the Argentine 'disappeared' 1970s: Human rights groups have raised questions about his role under the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-1983 - and particularly about the kidnap of two Jesuit priests. The cardinal's office has always denied his involvement. He told Perfil magazine in 2010 he had helped some dissidents escape the country.
Faces of the Argentine 'disappeared' 1970s: Human rights groups have raised questions about his role under the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-1983 - and particularly about the kidnap of two Jesuit priests. The cardinal's office has always denied his involvement. He told Perfil magazine in 2010 he had helped some dissidents escape the country.
Argentine soldier in the Falklands 1982: Pope Francis has been a strong supporter of the veterans of the war in the Falkland Islands - referred to in Argentina as Las Malvinas. He has spoken against attempts to "demalvinizar" or gloss over the history of the war.
Protests in Buenos Aires, 2001 2001: The Archbishop of Buenos Aires became a cardinal in 2001, as the Argentine economy was in crisis. Speaking in Buenos Aires as thousands joined rallies against government austerity plans, he highlighted the contrast between the rich and "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work".
Conclave 2005 2005: Cardinal Bergoglio was seen as a strong contender to become Pope at the 2005 conclave to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II. He was reported to be the chief rival to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was duly elected and became Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Bergoglio at a Mass in 2009 and protesters at a march 2009: As cardinal and archbishop, he stood out for his humility, living in a modest apartment, rather than his luxury official residence. In his sermons, he often stressed social inclusion and criticised governments which did not help those on society's margins of society, describing poverty in Argentina as "immoral and unjust".
Supporters of gay marriage in Argentina 2010: Although Pope Francis is strong on social justice, he is extremely conservative on sexual matters. He voiced staunch opposition to gay marriage when it was legalised in Argentina in 2010. He said: "Let's not be naive: this isn't a simple political fight, it is a destructive attack on God's plan."
Cardinal Bergoglio at a Mass 2012: Cardinal Bergoglio preferred life outside the bureaucracy of Rome and he criticised those "who clericalise the Church". In a sermon to Argentine priests, he attacked those who would not baptise children of single mothers. "Those who separate the people of God from salvation. These are today's hypocrites."
Pope Francis 2013: Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was not seen by the media as one of the front-runners to succeed Pope Benedict. But he is now the first non-European Pope for more than 1,000 years and the first from Latin America, home to 40% of the world's Catholics.

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Pope Francis


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  • rate this

    Comment number 954.

    Meh, same old same old.
    This bloke will probably see the biggest decline in the faithful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 953.

    45 Minutes ago

    @757 rideforever: What has science ever done for us?

    The antibiotics, massively reduced infant and maternal mortality?

    Their life is nearly up, need new ones fast.

    The light was always there, created by God.

    God, didn't need a computer or a phone, he knew it all & could convey fine, he didn't need central heating, e 'ad Sun. He never had pain, e 'ad cure!

  • rate this

    Comment number 952.

    It would be interesting to see some figures to how many hours of news coverage the BBC gave to the election of the new Pope and how many to the election of the new Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese President will probably have 10 times more real influence over all our lives but the Pope probably had about 10 times more BBC coverage..why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 951.

    I used to think it was God,...but now I think there’s just not enough space here to really lay into someone. That’s why they provide us with plus and minus rating options.

    Sometimes the mods have to work overtime in cases like this pope story. So a moderator gets to work and just minuses and moderates her aggression out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 950.

    Read Dawkins ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 949.

    My the atheists are out in force it's a shame they can only castigate and criticise Christians. It's amazing their description of God when they don't believe in him. According to them Christians are a load of bigots and yet they never mention the good works they do such giving aid and relief to those suffering or setting up and running schools it's only the bad things they see, glad I'm christian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 948.

    The following post contains nothing that should offend in a democratic society.

    The Roman Catholic church is a corrupt, power hungry cult who have dictated to the 'masses' for centuries, taking power through force and dividing and conquering societies. It sits near the very top of the tree and the BBC is one of its many puppets. The fact that so many comments have been removed today proves this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 947.

    929. Rob
    "The Catholic Church and most other religions should be shunned as archaic cults unworthy of our time."

    It looks like that you strongly prefer modern cults. But we have around us so many modern cults - even major ones are numbered in dozens - and regretfully you didn't specify the particular modern cults, which you would like us to join and worship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 946.


    The British and French empires both enslaved Africa without needing religion at all, and although no British children have been sent into war in the middle east, Britain is responsible for most of turbulence in the mid east from Iraq today to Lawrence of Arabia.

    Stalin a Militant atheist condemned approx. 10 million to death by starvation, why not answer the criticism

  • rate this

    Comment number 945.

    Can people once and for all stop treating African Christians as if we are brain dead individuals incapable of independent thought. It is unbelievably arrogant of you to think that you have a greater ability to think things through. Just because you don't agree with our beliefs doesn't mean you should insult our intelligence. The reality is that many do use contraception and many don't! Free will!

  • rate this

    Comment number 944.

    @918, should I also answer for British privateers? Or were you talking about more contemporary problems, even though your list was stuff that happened ages ago?

  • rate this

    Comment number 943.

    13 Minutes ago

    The "Church" incidentally is the community of 1.2 billion people worldwide who SHARE a belief in God and follow the teachings of Christ as laid out in the Bible. It is not just a building with some cardinals and priests in it. His role is to support all Christians in our beliefs.
    "All" Christians? I think you'll find a few million Protestants who might disagree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 942.

    Re. Re. 890. martiniqueen
    "ALL religions expect to dictate ... Atheism is one of the most militant.
    And the law does not ..."

    My friend, Atheism is not a religion, it is a rejection of God(s) and religion. Atheism being "militant"- Really? Pot calling kettle? Most intellectuals in the world are atheist because they are free thinkers and not clouded by archaic dogma and you find that "militant?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 941.

    18 Minutes ago
    Not all of the Crusades were authorized by RCC, but i take your point, what other wars are there that you can you think of?

    Seems a lot forget Northern Irelands troubles over the years then right on our doorstep and people close to where I live dead for this cause.

    Starting riots for walking down the street in the name of the church.

    Ban religion like Nazism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 940.

    People tend to forget that the church has fed more hungry, housed more homeless, clothed more naked and set up more orphanages, schools & hospitals than any other organisation ever."

    But look at its motives. It did all that to gather more into its "flock" and indoctrinate them into its strange belief system. It wasn't done from kindness...

  • rate this

    Comment number 939.

    "831. ResCyn
    Nobody's advocating the thought police however faith is not a rational process and I don't want it's framework surrounding policy decisions."

    Party politics is not a rational process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 938.

    You have to love the comments along the lines where is your proof there is no god? This is what the suspension of rational, critical thought does to you. The burden of proof is not on us:

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

    You could shut our side up in one fell swoop by just producing some evidence. Non-belief is the default state and we don't have to prove anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 937.

    40 Minutes ago

    Things done in the name of Religion has caused more avoidable death than any other single thing known to man.

    First you say that codswallop and in your next paragraph you mention alcohol. FAUX PAS

    On a different note this pope is known for having lived in a simple apartment, taking the bus everywhere and cooking his own meals unlike a certain PM

  • rate this

    Comment number 936.

    Don't mention the missing babies...

  • rate this

    Comment number 935.

    Tomorrows news?

    God is found alive and well - living on the Falkland Islands........


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