Welcome to our new pope, Pope Francis I

pope francis electionOn March 13th 2013, at the end of the second day of the papal conclave and after just the fifth ballot, white smoke billowed from the chimney, signalling that a new pope had been elected.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the pope elect, was formally asked, in Latin, by the most senior of the electing cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re: “Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?” He was then asked by which name he wanted to be called, robed in the Room of Tears, given time to pray, and then taken out onto the balcony at the Vatican to be shown to the world.

Many people were surprised that this Argentinian born Jesuit cardinal, with Italian heritage, had been elected pope. And many more did not know who he was. But his humbleness and straightforward, no-nonsense manner soon endeared him to the hearts of the faithful and the world.

The first pope ever to choose the name, Francis, Cardinal Bergoglio has taken  it in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the worldwide Franciscan order, champion of the poor and patron of animals and the environment. Likewise, Pope Francis has great concern for the injustice and sufferings endured by the poor, and has called the Church and the world to action.


May Pope Francis be filled with the Holy Spirit, and given holy strength and a most courageous heart as he leads the Church ever onward.


March 16, 2013. Papal news, Pope Francis I. Leave a comment.

A fond farewell to Pope Benedict XVI

Saying good-bye to Pope Benedict XVI is sad, but we trust in God.

Pope Benedict XVI

When I heard the news on Monday, 11th February 2013 that Pope Benedict was resigning, I thought the friend who had told me was mistaken, or that it was a hoax, and I surmised that it was impossible for a pope to resign.

Checking the online news, I realised it was no mistake, nor a hoax, and that it was possible for a pope to resign. Indeed, a number had done so in the past, such as Pope Martin I (649-655), Pope Benedict V (964), Pope Benedict IX (1032-1045), Pope Celestine V (1294) and Pope Gregory XII (1406-1415).  With great sadness, Pope Benedict would be leaving on the 28th February 2013.

My feelings were mixed: I felt shocked, sad, abandoned and anxious for the future of the Catholic Church. Benedict, for me, had been heaven’s confirmation of Blessed John Paul II’s extraordinary papacy, which had been so criticised by the secular world. I had always felt very connected to Pope Benedict and had a great fondness for him; I had seen him many times during the years 2005 and 2010 as I had been a part-time student in Rome studying bioethics at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. It felt like the end of an era for me.

This said, my initial feelings soon gave way to faith and reason. I know that Pope Benedict is a holy and humble man of deep prayer and that he would have sought God’s Will in this most serious of matters. And it is precisely because he is such a holy and humble person that he has stepped down at this moment in time. He has guided the Catholic Church to this point and now the Holy Spirit is preparing us for the next steps on our pilgrim journey.

Pope and 3 kids

As Catholics, we are called to trust in God’s providential care, and so we place ourselves in His hands. In prayer, we thank God for the wonderful and blessed gift of Pope Benedict XVI and we entrust him to God during his retirement. We also send up our prayers for the cardinals who are tasked with electing the 266th pope.

In faith we trust and have confidence that all shall be well.

February 11, 2013. Papal news, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Leave a comment.

Pope Benedict on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, Pope Benedict XVI recalls his visit to the UK and shares his hopes for us this Christmastide.

Pope BBC

‘Recalling with great fondness my four-day visit to the United Kingdom last September, I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you once again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God’s chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation. They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send, and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.

“God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them.”

God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed xmas scenebring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place – he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history. And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross. And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God. Out of love for us he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability, and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life, to a share in the life of God himself. As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us, and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.

Dear Friends from Scotland, England, Wales and indeed every part of the English-speaking world, I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers during this Holy Season. I pray for your families, for your children, for those who are sick, and for those who are going through any form of hardship at this time. I pray especially for the elderly and for those who are approaching the end of their days. I ask Christ, the light of the nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant to every one of you the grace of a peaceful joyful Christmas. May God bless all of you!’

Broadcast on Friday 24th December, 2010 at 7.45am.

To listen, click the BBC Radio 4 logo to go to the BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day webpage

Radio4 logo


December 24, 2010. Papal news, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope's visit 2010. Leave a comment.