New pope takes on vicar of Christ mantle

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On Monday, March 4, 2013, the cardinals convened for the General Congregations, leading to the election, on March 13, 2013, of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. who took the name Pope Francis.

Submitted photo: Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis was inaugurated as the 266th pope at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Vatican said between 150,000-200,000 people attended the Mass.

“I want to ask a favor,” Francis told the world. “I want to ask you to walk together, and take care of one another. … And don’t forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me.”

The Catholic Church is unusual, said Father Andy Pavlak, leader of Socorro’s San Miguel Parish. There is a direct connection between the pope and every parish, every person in the church.

“It is a big, big deal,” Pavlek said. “He is the pastor of every church in the world. Bishop Sheehan (Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe) too is united. He (the pope) is building the kingdom – with all the people united.”

Pavlak called the pope the “vicar of Christ” and the “successor to St. Peter.”

“He is the spiritual leader, temporal leader and secular leader of the church,” Pavlek said. “Most importantly, he is the chief shepherd as vicar of Christ.”

Pope Francis, during Tuesday’s inauguration, said the role of the pope is to open his arms and protect all of humanity, but “especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”

“Today, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds.”

“The more I learn about him, the more excited I am about the choice the conclave made,” said Father Stephen Schultz, pastor at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church. “I think he will lead the church back to basics in a sense.”

Through news reports, Schultz said he learned as cardinal in Buenos Aries, Pope Francis, the first of that name, sold the mansion designated for his use and moved into an apartment.

“He cooked his own meals, rode the bus. It was amazing to see how many people in Buenos Aires knew him,” Schultz said. “He chose Saint Francis, someone who exudes prayerfulness and humility.”

As far as the future direction of the church, Schultz said the doctrine of the church isn’t going to change because of any one pope.

“I don’t anticipate any huge changes, other than a push for more recognition of the poor and common people,” he said. “A phrase that occurred in my mind, and I have heard elsewhere, is he’s a pope of the people or the people’s pope. He won’t be taken away from his central role of leader of the people.”

Father James Marshall, pastor of San Clemente Catholic Church in Los Lunas, said he also heard reports of the new pope’s humbleness and humility.

Julia M. Dendinger, reporter with the Valencia County News-Bulletin, contributed to this report.