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March 15th, 2013
06:14 AM ET

Pope Francis's leadership is 'about taking the gospel to the people,' says Vatican rep Father Thomas Rosica

A new era for the Catholic Church dawned this week as Pope Francis began his first day as Holy Father on Thursday. This morning, Pope Francis meets with the College of Cardinals, the group elected him, and those cardinals over the age of 80 who were not involved in conclave.

Many have speculated the direction in which the new pope may lead the church, and his first mass yesterday gave some clues. In his homily, Pope Francis hinted at the church's struggles and delivered a strong message to the cardinals: Reject worldliness, be true to the gospel message, and rebuild the church on a strong foundation...or it will come down like "sandcastles on the beach."

Father Thomas Rosica is the Vatican's Deputy Spokesperson. He knows Pope Francis personally and shares his insight on the Holy Father’s first days in office. Father Rosica says Pope Francis is just continuing to perform as he did as Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. “He was a pastor there, very close to the people. And he's continued that,” Father Rosica says. “He's simply changed the color of his robes right now."

Father Rosica also shares what kind of leadership to expect from Pope Francis and why the cardinals chose him. He says Pope Francis’s papacy  is “about taking the gospel to the people” and the cardinals believe he has the ability to do that. “They chose someone who has an extraordinary record for compassion, for relating to people not just those within the Catholic Church, those who are good Catholics,” Father Rosica says, “but especially those on the fringes, the poor, the destitute, the disenfranchised, those living in irregular relationships, those who have suffered, those who have brought suffering upon themselves.”

Father Rosica also addresses the controversies facing the church which many expect Pope Francis to reform. Father Rosica says the papacy is beyond that and not about widening the church or addressing the particular agendas of different countries. “The pope is elected because he's the pastor of a world church."

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Filed under: Papacy • Papal conclave • Pope Francis
March 14th, 2013
09:05 AM ET

BishopAccountability.org's Doyle: Pope Francis not a 'promising leader' on sexual abuse within the church

As Pope Francis takes his place as the leader of the church, he faces a growing sex abuse scandal that has plagued the church in recent years. It’s a problem he inherits and one many are hoping he will address more aggressively than his predecessors.

Anne Barrett Doyle offers more on this view live from Rome. She's the Co-Director of BishopAccountability.org, a watchdog group that serves as the largest library of documented sexual abuse within the church.

Doyle explains her hope in the future of the church now, as well as her doubts about Pope Francis reforming the issue of sexual abuse within the church.  “My first concern was that the cardinals chose not to make a statement that clergy sexual abuse would be the next pope's priority,” she says. “They did not choose a cardinal who has dealt extensively with this issue."

Doyle says nothing in Bergoglio's past characterizes him as a "particularly promising leader on this issue,” but she is optimistic. A Catholic who was present in  Saint Peter's Square when the white smoke came out, she says she feels profound hope. “We need someone who is gutsy and outspoken,” Doyle says. “Let's hope this particular cardinal, now Pope Francis, has a change and becomes the leader that we desperately need to resolve this issue.”

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Filed under: Papacy • Pope • Pope Francis • Religion
March 14th, 2013
07:37 AM ET

High hopes for Pope Francis – John Allen and Father Edward Beck on what it could mean for the Catholic church

Today marks the first day of the papacy for Pope Francis, the first Latin American to be elected pope and the first to choose the name Francis.  John Allen, CNN Senior Vatican Analyst, and Father Edward Beck, CNN Contributor, are live to Rome to explain what this means for the future of the church.

Allen believes there are three blocs within the cardinals. He believes one bloc wanted “a pope outside of the West,” a second who wanted a pope “who can speak for the aspirations of the world's poor,” and a group of cardinals who “wanted to shake things up in the Vatican.” “So you wrap all that up,” Allen says, “I don’t think it's that hard to figure out how he got to those magic 77 votes that represented two-thirds of this voting bloc.”

Father Edward Beck reflects on the humility of Pope Francis, who may now have to reconcile the humble life he has led so far in Argentina to the pomp and circumstance in Rome. "This is an amazing testimony," Father Beck says. "This is the man who supposedly gave up his palace where he was living, to live in a simple apartment because he wanted to be more of the common person."

Filed under: Papacy • Pope • Pope Francis • Religion
March 14th, 2013
07:33 AM ET

Pope Francis begins first day as head of Catholic church – Miguel Marquez reports

Thousands of people were thrilled to see white smoke billow from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel yesterday. Then “the largest bell in the basilica signaled the election of a new pope,” Miguel Marquez reports.

The square quickly filled to capacity as the crowd gathered to witness the new pope greet the people. “Argentine Cardinal  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, becomes Pope Francis,” he introduced himself to the world.  “He asked the crowd to pray for his predecessor pope Benedict.  Then in a dramatic and touching moment, he asked for silent prayer.”

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Filed under: Papacy • Pope • Pope Francis • Religion
March 13th, 2013
07:46 AM ET

Black smoke from Sistine Chapel indicates no new pope selected – Chris Cuomo reports

All eyes are on Sistine Chapel chimney this morning. Millions are watching for a smoke signal from the 115 cardinals voting inside. Chris Cuomo is live in Rome with the latest.

The cardinals' second or third ballots this morning show an inconclusive vote as black smoke billows from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. A new Holy Father to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has not yet been selected.

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Filed under: Papacy • Papal conclave • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Smoke signal
March 13th, 2013
07:25 AM ET

Cardinals voting now for next pope – Chris Cuomo sets the scene in Rome

Right now, the world is focusing on a thin copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel. At any moment, it could show white smoke and signal the election of a new pope. Yesterday and earlier this morning, black smoke signaled that the 115 cardinal electors had failed to choose the Catholic Church's next spiritual leader.

After black smoke emerged Wednesday, the cardinals will return for an afternoon voting session beginning at 11amET, and at 12:30pmET all eyes will then be back on the Sistine Chapel chimney, awaiting another smoke signal from the cardinals.

Chris Cuomo sets the scene from Rome on "Early Start" this morning.

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Filed under: Papacy • Papal conclave • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI
March 13th, 2013
07:12 AM ET

The 'Super Tuesday' of papal election: Father Beck and John Allen on conclave day two

Today marks the second day of the secret papal election known as conclave.  The cardinals are voting right now as millions around the world watch the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel for the white smoke signal indicating that a new Holy Father has been chosen.

CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen and CNN Contributor Father Edward Beck are following the latest live in Rome with Chris Cuomo. Allen describes the importance of the vote today now that the cardinals have a better grasp of the candidates. “Today becomes what we Americans would think of as Super Tuesday, because it's the make-or-break day for the front-runners,” he says.

Father Beck describes the two things people have told him they desire in a candidate. “One is they want a reformer. Not only if you think of reforming as sexual abuse and cleaning house, but people have seen there's been mismanagement at the top,” Beck says. “So, they want a reformation of that organization. Secondly, they say we want someone who can communicate to the masses. They long for John Paul II again, who can stand up on a world stage and elicit excitement about the church, about the vision of the church, and someone who can inspire youth once again as well.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Papacy • Papal conclave • Religion
March 13th, 2013
06:36 AM ET

Americans make the pilgrimage to Vatican for glimpse of white smoke and new pope – Miguel Marquez reports

History is in the making in Rome, Italy today. Today marks the second day of the papal election. We may see white smoke emerge from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, indicating a new pontiff has been chosen.

Many Americans are making the pilgrimage to Rome to witness the moment live at the Vatican. Miguel Marquez speaks to two American Catholic students on watch for the smoke signal.

Both active in the Catholic church, Nora and Victoria share their feelings about the significance of being present for this conclave.

"It's such an exciting experience and it's part of history, and just to say that I was here for a new election of a new pope is amazing," Nora says.

“It's very important," Victoria says. "The pope is the leader of our church, and he's such a model, so we really need someone who is strong an and who can lead us.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Papacy • Papal conclave • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI
March 12th, 2013
07:42 AM ET

Why the first vote in the papal conclave is so important – Msgr. Richard Hilgartner explains

As the Cardinals wrap up a special mass at the Vatican for the election of a new pope, “Early Start” is joined by Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, the Head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship.

Cardinals from every corner of the earth will take an oath of secrecy to begin the election process for the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Then, the eyes of the world will be on the copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel. While a vote is expected to take place today, it’s all but guaranteed that black smoke will billow instead of white, indicating an inconclusive vote. Monsignor Hilgartner explains the significance of the first ballot and how the voting process works.

Msgr. Hilgartner says the first vote helps to officially establish the names of potential candidates. Prior to today, the cardinals “only talked about broad concepts of issues and concerns. They really don't know who they're voting for until that first ballot is cast and they start to read off the ballots, and they see,” Hilgartner says. “Then they really see the consensus, the sense of the group, and really see what the trends are looking like.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Papacy • Pope • Religion
February 12th, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Who will be selected as the next pope? EWTN's Raymond Arroyo weighs in

EWTN's Raymond Arroyo on possible successors after Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation.

Filed under: Papacy • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI