Pope Francis Names 17 New Cardinals

Pope Francis, New CardinalsPope Francis has named 17 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church from around the world, many of whom will help choose his successor.

The new cardinals come from five continents, and include the Vatican’s envoy to Syria.

The range of backgrounds “represents a break with custom”, said the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.

Pope Francis has now chosen close to a third of the College of Cardinals who will ultimately pick who succeeds him.

The new cardinals come from countries including the Central African Republic, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Mauritius, among others.

During the ceremony, Pope Francis decried what he said was a “growing animosity” between people, and raised concern over those who “raise walls, build barriers and label people”.

“We live at a time in which polarisation and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts,” he said.

Pope Proclaims ‘Dispenser Of Mercy’ Mother Teresa A Saint

Mother TherseaMother Teresa of Calcutta, known as the “saint of the gutters” during her life, was declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Francis on Sunday, fast-tracked to canonisation just 19 years after her death.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims packed St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for a service to honor the tiny nun, who worked among the world’s neediest in the slums of the Indian city now called Kolkata and become one of the most recognisable faces of the 20th century.

A Nobel peace laureate, her legacy complements Pope Francis’s vision of a humble church that strives to serve the poor, and the festivities in her honor are a highlight of his Holy Year of Mercy, which runs until November 8.

Standing under a canvas hung from St. Peter’s Basilica showing the late nun in her blue-hemmed white robes, Francis said she was a “dispenser of divine mercy” and held world powers to account “for the crimes of poverty they created”.

“For Mother Teresa, mercy was the salt which gave flavour to her work, it was the light which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.”

Around 120,000 people attended the ceremony, according to Vatican estimates, celebrating the life of a woman who Francis said it might be difficult to call “Saint” as people felt so close to her they spontaneously used “Mother”.

“Everything she did gave an example to the entire world,” said 17-year-old student Massimiliano D’Aniello, from Grosseto, Italy, adding he had made a musical about her with his friends.

Pope Francis Preaches Peaceful Coexistence Among Osun Residents

Pope FrancisPope Francis has called for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, particularly residents of Osun State, irrespective of the socio-cultural and religious beliefs.

The Pope made the appeal during a visit of the Roman Catholic Church to Governor Rauf Aregbesola at the Government House in Osogbo, the state capital.

The Catholic Pontif, who was represented by Most Reverend Augustine Kassujja, said that dialogue instead of violence should be ensued in resolving issues of disagreement between people of diverse culture, tradition, religion and beliefs.

While welcoming the Catholic leadership to the state, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, expressed the commitment of the state government to working with all religious representations in promoting peaceful coexistence in the state.

He added that the virtues of tolerance, compassion, love and accommodation must be imbibed by adherents of different religions.

Pope Francis Holds Historic Talks With Russian Orthodox Patriarch

pope Francis and KirillHistory has been made in Cuba where Pope Francis and the Russian orthodox, Patriarch Kirill, have held a first of its kind meeting.

At the talks which is the first between a Pope and a Russian church head since the western and eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th century, both men called for Restored Christian Unity between the two churches.

In a joint declaration, they also urged the world to protect Christians from persecution in the middle east.

Patriarch Kirill has been the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since February 2009, while Pope Francis took up his role in March 2013.

The Roman Catholic Church has more than a billion members worldwide, while the Russian Orthodox Church numbers about 165 million.

The Russian Church is the largest and most powerful in the Orthodox faith, which is made up of a number of separate churches.

The encounter in Havana is not expected to lead to any immediate rapprochement between the Eastern and Western Churches.

Ahead of the meeting, the foreign policy Chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Illarion, said there were still differences between the two churches, in particular on western Ukraine.

The Pope has now arrived in Mexico for a five-day visit. The country has the world’s second largest catholic population.

Jonathan Congratulates New Pope

President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the newly elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

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In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan welcomed Cardinal Bergoglio’s election as successor to Pope Benedict XVI as “a divinely inspired choice by the College of Cardinals and an unequivocal testimony of God’s abiding presence in His Church and the world.”

The statement reads, “The President joins Catholics in Nigeria and other countries of the world in praying for God’s blessings and Divine guidance for Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis as he assumes the papacy, trusting that he will put his acclaimed qualities and devoutness to the best possible use in resolutely guiding the Church through the many challenges it currently faces.

“President Jonathan and the Federal Government look forward to further enhancing the already cordial and excellent relationship between Nigeria and the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis, the beloved champion of the underprivileged and renowned crusader for global equity and social justice.

“The President also looks forward to collaborating with Pope Francis and the Holy See in working towards the realization of a much more secure, peaceful and just world order.

“As he prepares for his formal installation and ascension to the Papacy on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the President prays that God Almighty will grant Pope Francis continued good health and strength, and the even greater knowledge, wisdom, understanding and divine insights he requires to successfully maintain the positive traditions of the Catholic Church and discharge the sacred Petrine Mission entrusted to him.”

Cardinal Bergogli is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be Pontiff. He is also the first Pope to be appointed out of Europe for 1,000 years.

He replaces Benedict XVI, who resigned last month at the age of 85, saying he was not strong enough to lead the Church.

African Pope Possible, Says Cardinal

Cardinal Kurt Koch, a close aide of Pope Benedict who will cast his vote for the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church, says there is no reason why the new pontiff cannot be African or Latin American.

Koch, head of the Vatican department that deals with Christian unity and relations with Jews, also said he had had no doubt that Pope Benedict would resign rather than rule for life, and said that future popes would be free to do the same.

“The challenges of the Church in the world are very different on different continents: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. The question is ‘where will the challenges be greater, on which continent, should it be a pope for, above all, Latin America, for Africa … ,” Koch told Reuters in an interview.

“I can imagine taking a step towards a black pope, an African pope or a Latin American pope. I can imagine this.”

Koch, 62, a soft-spoken Swiss, will be one of the 117 cardinals under the age of 80 who are eligible to enter a secretive conclave to elect the next pope that is expected to start in mid-March.

There has been much speculation in the Church on whether the man to succeed Benedict should be a non-European, which would be a first in more than a millennium.

While the Church in Europe is polarized and has dwindling congregations, the Church in Africa is growing and in Latin America it remains large and vibrant despite inroads by Protestant evangelical groups.

THRIVING

There are several leading candidates from outside the Old Continent.

Latin Americans include Brazilian Odilo Scherer, archbishop of the huge diocese of Sao Paulo and Argentine Leonardo Sandri, who works in the Vatican and whose parents are of Italian origin.

Peter Turkson from Ghana, head of the Vatican’s justice and peace department, is often tipped as Africa’s front runner.

There is a thriving Church in the Philippines, the largest Catholic country in Asia, birthplace of one cardinal who is often mentioned as a candidate, Luis Antonio Tagle.

Asked to provide a job description for the next pope, Koch paused for few seconds and said: “I think each pope has to have four qualities: First of all, deep faith, then, sound doctrine, charisma and a capacity to govern.”

The next pope, whatever his age, could rule for life if he wanted to, like most of his predecessors, or resign for health reasons, Koch said.

Still, he acknowledged that the cardinals were navigating in uncharted waters.

The last pope to leave office willingly was Celestine V, a saintly hermit whose served only a few months before abdicating in 1294 and was imprisoned by his successor in a castle south of Rome. Another pope, Gregory XII, reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute to a rival claimant to the papacy.

“It is clear that this is a situation that is totally new. The cardinals must choose the new pope with the presence of the living pope. We still don’t know what effect it will have. It makes a great difference if the pope is dead or alive,” Koch said.

Benedict has said he would be “hidden to the world” after his resignation on February 28 and the Vatican has said he will not try to influence the choice of his successor. He will move to the papal summer residence south of Rome and then in April, after the conclave, into a convent inside the Vatican.

VERY SECRET

Koch cautioned against making predictions on who the next pope could be.

“The election is very secret, even in the conclave, no one knows who the other person is voting for as we put our ballots in the chalice,” he said.

Koch, who was in the room when Benedict announced his resignation to a small group of cardinals in Latin on Monday, said he was surprised only by the timing.

“I always said if any pope would resign it would be Benedict … this move was very characteristic of his personality. He never wanted to put himself at the centre of things,” Koch said.

“We now see that behind the ministry (of any pope) there is a human person … these are decisions of individual conscience. John Paul decided not to come down from the cross, as he put it, and retained the ministry to his death,” Koch said.

“John Paul reflected long and hard on that and came to his decision. Benedict is another person and he came to another decision and I think we have to accept this decision of conscience and not think about all the consequences that it could bring about.”