Mon, Mar 18, 2013 - Page 9 News List

The ascent of Pope Francis

While the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio came as a surprise to many, his humble personality and desire to grow the church won him key support

By Daniel J. Wakin  /  NY Times News Service, ROME

“So there were thoughts about looking to someone much younger,” said Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux.

“But there were two reasons” to choose Bergoglio, he said. “First it was his personality that was the determiner. The other thing was that we remembered that we had popes like John XXIII, who was old, but he was decisive for the evolution of the church. So the question of age wasn’t such a big factor.”

The first public view of Francis was on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, where he asked the crowd in the piazza for their blessing and then wished them a good rest, earning praise from many Catholics for his humble bearing and choice to name himself after the beloved St Francis of Assisi.

On Thursday, his first full day as pope, he prayed at the Saint Mary Major Basilica and passed by the clergy residence — where he stayed before the conclave — to pick up his luggage and pay the bill.

“I think this is the style of our new pope,” Ricard said.

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