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Francis I 'clearly sending a signal his pontificate is one of deep faith'

pope francis portrait
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
@JMBergoglio: “Immensely pleased to be the new Pope, Francis I.”

Update: The Twitter profile and tweets referenced in this story turn out to be a hoax. Twitter took the profile down, but not before a number of news outlets reported on Pope Francis' social media prowess.    

At 2:15 Central Standard Time Wednesday, @JMBergoglio, aka Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge M. Bergoglio, sent out the following tweet: “Immensely pleased to be the new Pope, Francis I.”

Talk about trending: a scant half hour later the first New World Pope had acquired a few thousand new followers. An hour after his selection was announced, Francis I had 111,000 followers. His profile, one follower noted, “was surging like foam!”

Dr. Don Briel
Dr. Don Briel

“I’m surprised both by the rapidity of the decision and by the choice,” said Dr. Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas. “I don’t think anyone would have anticipated this. Certainly the London bookies didn’t.”

To Briel, the choice suggests a compromise within the conclave. A Jesuit, Bergoglio is expected to resist liberalization, and he brings a deep commitment to the poor and to the developing world.

“He is very well intellectually trained, he’s very bright,” said Briel. By being the first to choose the name Francis, he added, Bergoglio “is clearly sending a signal his pontificate is one of deep faith.”

Bergoglio was the Pope Emeritus’ strongest competitor in 2005, when Benedict XVI was elected. He is 76, an age many thought would keep him from serious consideration this time.

According to a profile published last week in the National Catholic Reporter, during the years of Argentina’s Dirty War of the 1970s and ‘80s, Bergoglio served first as the Jesuit provincial in Argentina and then rector of the seminary from which he graduated. He resisted the movement of many Jesuits of the era toward Liberation Theology, but remained a strong advocate for the poor.

"We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least," the publication quoted Bergoglio as saying during a 2007 gathering of Latin American bishops. "The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers."

He is thought to support the church's current positions on sexuality and last month posted an item on his Facebook page stating his opposition to adoptions by homosexuals. 

In addition to a humble lifestyle, it would appear that Francis I has a real sense of humor. On Feb. 28, in his last social-media communication before the tweet heard ‘round the world, Bergoglio quipped: “If I am the new Pope, the children are going to love me more than Santa Claus #Vatican.”

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Comments (3)

Pope Dirty War

I didn't expect balanced reporting on this from Minnpost, but the new Pope was involved in the Dirty Wars in Argentina:

Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. It's one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend mass.

"...the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate."

And the NYT

This comment :

He remained in that post through 1979, and his performance during the Dirty War has been the subject of controversy. In 2005, shortly before the Vatican conclave that elevated Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy, Cardinal Bergoglio was formally accused by an Argentine lawyer in a lawsuit of being complicit in the military’s kidnapping of two Jesuit priests whose antigovernment views he considered dangerously unorthodox.

The priests, whom he had dismissed from the order a week before they disappeared, were discovered months later on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, drugged and partially undressed. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the cardinal’s spokesman dismissed the accusations as “old slander.”

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the debate has continued, with Argentine journalists publishing articles and books that appear to contradict Cardinal Bergoglio’s account of his actions. These accounts draw not only on documents from the period, but also on statements by priests and lay workers who clashed with Cardinal Bergoglio.

And the url :

A pontificate of deep faith

…is not news. Did anyone expect a gathering of Catholic Cardinals to elect a man of “mediocre” faith? Wavering faith? Minimal faith? An atheist? If there’s news value to the election of a Pope (as a non-Catholic, I’m a lot less interested than those who are), it has to do with other factors, including some of those mentioned by other commenters. I’m not surprised that the new Pope is so out-of-touch that he not only opposes abortion — something of a given — but birth control, as well. That, too, should probably be a given. Personally, I’d be more interested in what he has to say, officially and on the record, about rampant sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, and its tolerance by those farther up in the church hierarchy.