Introduction On March 13, 2013, a new pope was elected to lead the Catholic Church. He was chosen by 115 cardinals after only five ballots or votes. His name is Pope Francis. Who is this man who has been called to take on this important work for the good of the Church and the whole world? Some Facts About Pope Francis His real name – his baptismal name – is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. His first name is pronounced ‘Hor-hay’ and means ‘George’ in English. The pope comes from Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. (Find it on the map.) Buenos Aires is in the north, near Uruguay. 40% of Catholics live in South America. Pope Francis is the first pope from North or South America, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere. Pope Francis is 76 years old and was born on December 17, 1936. He has five brothers and sisters. His father was a railway worker, and his mother was a housewife. Both of his parents were of Italian heritage. As a teenager, he had to have one lung removed, due to an infection. After finishing high school he earned a master’s degree in chemistry. At the age of 21, Jorge Bergoglio decided to become a priest. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. (He has been a priest for 42 years.) The Pope belongs to an order of priests known as the Jesuits. In 1998 he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and was named a cardinal in 2001. Pope Francis speaks six languages: Spanish, Latin, Italian, German, French, and English. He loves literature and has written books on spirituality and prayer. The pope is a humble man and likes to live a simple life. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he chose not to live in a luxurious home. Rather, he cooked his own meals and would ride the bus or his bicycle to work. He dressed as a simple priest. Pope Francis was known for living and working among the people. He especially liked to visit the poor who lived in the slum areas and those suffering from AIDS in hospitals. He is being called the ‘Pope of the Poor’ … the ‘Pope of the People’. Ever since he was a child, the pope has supported a particular Argentinian soccer team. It is called the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club. Here he is holding up the team’s banner. This is the first pope in the history of the Church to ever choose Francis as his papal name. He is Pope Francis the First. He named himself after St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi lived 800 years ago and belonged to a rich Italian family, but he gave away all his wealth and chose to live a simple, prayerful life. St. Francis had a love for the poor and spent his life telling others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name, Francis, because he too has a great love for Jesus and a great concern for the poor. Let Us Pray The whole Church is rejoicing at the news of the election of Pope Francis as our new Holy Father. When he first stepped out onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square and was presented to the people, Pope Francis blessed us. He also asked us to pray with him and for him. Today let us pray for our new Shepherd. Prayer of the Faithful Reader: For Pope Francis, that the Lord may strengthen and protect him as he begins this sacred and important work. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Reader: For the poor and the needy, and for those who work hard to help them, especially Catholic Social Services and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Reader: For unity in the Church, that with Pope Francis’ leadership and example, all of God’s people will work together for peace, for justice, and for a better world. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Reader: For all priests and clergy, especially our parish priests and Fr. ________________ (name of your parish priest) that they may be examples of God’s love and goodness for others. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Reader: For all of us, that during this Year of Faith, we may grow in our knowledge of God, our service to God’s people, and our love for the Church. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Reader: That we may follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi and our new pope, Pope Francis, trying to live simply, and always caring for our environment. We pray to the Lord. All: Lord, hear our prayer. Closing Prayer Leader: Let us pray … All: Loving God, we thank you for giving us a new pope. You have chosen your servant Francis as shepherd of your people. May he be a light for the world. Give Pope Francis a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. Fill him with the wisdom and strength that are needed to build the Church and to make it strong. By word and example, may the Church – all of us – reflect the love of God and the peace of Christ. May Pope Francis lead us into a closer friendship with you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. Final Blessing Leader: … May our good and generous God bless us All: In the name of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.