Pope Francis appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (March 13, 2013)


Pope Francis


Shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, white smoke fumed out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, indicating to the world that the College of Cardinals were in agreement and elected a new Pontiff.  As crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and thousands watched on television, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped onto the balcony to declare Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope)! and announced that Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires is the new Pope of the Catholic Church and chose to take the name of Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi. He is the 266th Catholic Pope.


Upon the announcement of Pope Francis, Bishop Barbarito issued the following statement:


   “We rejoice with the entire Church on the election of Pope Francis as the Shepherd of the Universal Church. The fact that the Cardinals chose him so quickly, especially in view of the requirement of 2/3 vote, is a sign of their unified consensus that he is the most appropriate choice for this ministry of service. We have a series of firsts - among them a new name for a Pope as well as the first Pope from the Americas. He is a very loving, humble, spiritual and capable man with a special love for the poor and marginalized in keeping with the name of his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi. Before giving his blessing to the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he bowed his head before them to ask for their prayers. We all also join in prayer for our new Holy Father as he begins his significant ministry of service to all men and women.


Viva il Papa!”


Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito

March 13, 2013



In addition, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement, congratulating the newly elected pope and calling Pope Francis the “figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. “ To read his full statement, please click here.




The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released a prayer for our new Pontiff. Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools have permission to download and reproduce these materials for free distribution. Printed copies of all of these resources may also be purchased from USCCB. For more information, click here to visit the USCCB’s Leadership & Holy See web page.



Prayer for Pope Francis

O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;


Grant, we pray, that by word and example
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.


Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.



Copyright © 2013, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC.


The coat of arms of Pope Francis borrows much from his former episcopal emblem. (CNS)