It was on 13 March 2013, that Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the head of the worldwide Catholic Church. He was elected in the 5th ballot on the second day of the conclave that was held following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013.
The 82-year old Pontiff is the first Pope from the American continent, the first Jesuit Pope in history and the first Pontiff who adopted the name of Italy’s popular Saint Francis of Assisi.
Six days later, on 19 March, the feast of St. Joseph, Pope Francis inaugurated his pontificate with a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Various political and religious leaders from around the world attended the event.
Some 65 officials of the Roman Curia who are on their annual Lenten spiritual exercises along with Pope Francis, Wednesday morning greeted the Holy Father on the 6th anniversary of his election as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Vatican News reports that before the morning Mass, on the 3rd full day of the March 10-15 retreat at the Casa Divin Maestro in the town of Arricia, just outside Rome, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect emeritus of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, addressed the Holy Father on behalf of the retreat participants.
“On behalf of all those present, I would like to tell you, Your Holiness, that we rejoice and are full of joy in being able to celebrate this morning Mass together with you and presided over by you,” Card. Re said. “I would also like to tell you that we ask that the Lord be your light, support and comfort in your task of confirming your brethren in faith, of being the foundation of unity and of showing everyone the way that leads to heaven,” the 85-year old cardinal said.
Card. Re concluded asking the Holy Father’s blessing and assured him they are truly close to him with great affection and sincere devotion.
Vatican News reports that the sixth anniversary of the election sees Pope Francis engaged in a year filled with important international journeys, marked at the beginning and the end by two “synodal” events: the meeting for the protection of minors, which took place last February with the participation of the presidents of the episcopal Conferences of the whole world; and the special Synod on the Amazon, which will be celebrated – also at the Vatican – this coming October. Particularly noteworthy was the recent journey to the United Arab Emirates, which saw the Bishop of Rome signing a joint Declaration with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. It is a document that hopefully will have consequences in the field of religious liberty. The theme of ecumenism will be prevalent in the upcoming journeys to Bulgaria and Romania, while the hoped-for – but not yet official – journey to Japan could help to keep alive the memory of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons, as a warning for the present and for the future of humanity that is living through the “piecemeal World War III” of which the Pope often speaks.
The following video feature carried by Rome Reports presents the hardest and most emotional moments of Pope Francis Papacy.
The Vatican News website adds “Because the Church, as Pope Francis reminds us today, is not self-sufficient precisely because she too recognizes herself as a beggar asking for healing, in need of mercy and forgiveness from her Lord and she bears witness to the Gospel to many wounded men and women of our time. Perhaps never before as in the troubled year just gone by, the sixth of his pontificate, has the Pope who presents himself as “a forgiven sinner”, testified to this essential and most relevant fact of the Christian faith, following the teaching of the Fathers of the Church and of his immediate predecessor Benedict XVI.”