As I watched Pope Francis come out on the Vatican balcony, my heart fluttered and I felt like crying. I am proud to see the first South American pope address the crowd there in Rome and many around the world. He is also the first Jesuit priest to serve as the pontiff.
I have strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church, it is my religious foundation. Once upon a time I went to Catholic school in Philadelphia. I attended Immaculate Conception School, the city’s East Germantown section, from first through eighth grades. I loved religion class and especially learning about the saints. I once aspired to become a Catholic nun and was a novitiate of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But found my true calling as a journalist.
Welcome Pope Francis and I look forward to seeing how you lead as the Roman Catholic Church comes under more and more scrutiny. Not only are there sexual abuse allegations to be confronted, but many dioceses face financial woes (many because of sexual abuse cases and settlements of those cases).
There’s a lot of work to be done and I wish you well.
ABOUT POPE FRANCIS (thanks USA TODAY)
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Age: 76. Born Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Education: Studied at Theological Faculty of San Miguel. Received licentiate in philosophy.
Ordained for the Jesuits on Dec. 13, 1969.
Languages: Besides his native Spanish, Bergoglio also speaks Italian and German.
–Ordained titular bishop of Auca and auxiliary of Buenos Aires on June 27, 1992.
–Became archbishop of Buenos Aires on Feb. 28, 1998.
–Received title ordinary for the Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an ordinary in their own rite on Nov. 30, 1998.
–Proclaimed cardinal by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 21, 2001.
–Participated in conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
–Served as president of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from November 2005 to November 2011.
Other facts about the new pope
–Reportedly received the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election.
–Despite being Argentina’s top church official, Bergoglio never lived in the ornate church mansion in Buenos Aires, preferring a simple bed in a downtown room heated by a small stove. For years, he took public transportation around the city and cooked his own meals.
–Had a lung removed due to infection when he was a teenager.
–Couldn’t prevent Argentina from becoming the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage or stop its president, Cristina Fernandez, from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination. When Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminate against children, Fernandez compared his tone to “medieval times and the Inquisition.”
–Critics accuse him of failing to stand up publicly against the country’s military dictatorship from 1976-1983, when victims and their relatives often brought first-hand accounts of torture, death and kidnappings.
–No Jesuit priest has ever served as pontiff.