Habemus Papam

At 6.06 pm (7.06 pm in Rome) last Wednesday evening, 13 March, white smoke billowed from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome to tell the waiting crowds and the world that a new Pope had been elected. Just over an hour later at 7.12 pm the Cardinal proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran (a visitor to Liverpool last year for Archbishop Patrick’s Golden Jubilee) made the announcement that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been elected as the 265th successor of Peter and would be Pope Francis.

Before giving his blessing from the balcony Pope Francis said: ‘...now let us begin this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which is the one that leads all the churches in charity. A journey of fraternity, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world so that this might be a great brotherhood’.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires of Italian parents. He was ordained for the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, on 13 December 1969 during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel.

He was novice master in San Miguel, where he also taught theology and was Jesuit Provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979 and Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel from 1980 to 1986. After completing his doctoral dissertation in Germany, he served as a confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba.

On 20 May 1992 he was appointed titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, and was ordained Bishop on 27 June. On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.

He served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.

Preaching at Mass following the Papal election Archbishop Emeritus Patrick said:

‘Go home tonight with a spring in your step, but let this Mass be a pledge that whenever his name is mentioned at every Mass from now on, let it not be a formality, let it be a prayer from the heart.

‘Someone who had met him said: “I will never forget the smile with which he greeted me.” Let us sustain him in his smile and in that beautiful lowliness of spirit which says: “The people must bless me before I can bless them.”

‘I think something new is happening for which we have every reason to be grateful.’



Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop-Emeritus of Liverpool at Solemn Mass to celebrate the Election of Pope Francis.  7.30 pm on Wednesday 13 March 2013 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.


The first time I heard the verse that the choir sang as part of our Gospel Acclamation by Duruflé to the words ‘You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church’ was on 12 March in 1956 in St Peter’s when Pope Pius XII celebrated his eightieth birthday.

It was also the feast of Pope St Gregory the Great and, if I mention that name Pius XII, may I suggest one challenge which is given to all of us this evening is to recognise what an amazing run of Popes the Lord has given to us, now over more than 100 years.

Leo XIII: who opened our eyes to the wonders of the Scriptures. Pius X: who died of a broken heart as the First World War began. Benedict XV: who was a herald of peace in the war years. Pius XI: who stood up to Hitler and Mussolini. Pius XII: The first Pope in the age of television, speaking the languages of all the countries who were part of Eurovision. Then John XXIII: the night of whose election I was at St Peter’s Square and I always say that John was the first of many surprises. The Great Paul VI, as Pope Benedict often called him. The smile of John Paul I, the sheer magnitude of John Paul II, the wisdom of Benedict; and now what we’ve seen in the first hour or so, the lowliness of Francis.

What an enormous challenge to each one of us. It reminds me of the words of Cardinal Hume who often said: ‘If ever I say things must change, it means I must change.’ That was exactly the prayer of Our Lord which we’ve just received: ‘For their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

In many ways, on the balcony this evening, the word which Pope Francis spoke to us was: ‘Pray.’ Praying is bound to change us. But in the name ‘Francis’, the poor man of Assisi, I suggest how utterly remarkable that First Reading, which we will receive again at the Mass of Chrism, from what we know of him, is exactly the man who has been elected Pope. He has lived: ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken.’

A constant service of the poor.

I think I heard somebody say that he used to ride by bus around the city. I feel quite chuffed by that: so do I, so at least I’m affirmed in retirement.

Small things from which have already been said, what a gift we have received, and all of it of course to ensure there is as a reality in the midst of our world, the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians that we become truly one body in Christ, recognising many, many different gifts.

May I suggest above all, since even in the last few days, so many of the comments made have been about the very serious shadows that have touched our family. But tonight, walk home with a spring in your step. It surely is wonderful that one man, our new Pope, can achieve two thirds of the votes of 115 people, coming from more or less every country in the globe. It’s all so very difficult, but the confidence that should give us that there is that two thirds saying: ‘Yes. This is the one the Lord has chosen.’

The one, if you like, who can make his own the Psalm which we said: ‘I have found David my servant and with my holy oil anointed him.’ It is quite remarkable that it has been achieved and I always love it when it is a total surprise. I didn’t see his name on any of the lists, it really is rather nice, and who expected the name Francis? None of us. A pure gift.

So go home with a spring in your step, but let this Mass tonight be a pledge that whenever his name is mentioned at every Mass from now on, let it not be a formality, let it be a prayer from the heart.

Someone who had met him said: ‘I will never forget the smile with which he greeted me.’ Let us sustain him in his smile and in that beautiful lowliness of spirit which says: ‘The people must bless me before I can bless them.’

I think something new is happening for which we have every reason to be grateful.