Papal fans will have to stick with snail mail

Screenshot of the Vatican web site's homepage. In 2005, the Vatican internet office created a special email address for the new pope, but there won't be one this time.

Screenshot of the Vatican web site’s homepage. In 2005, the Vatican Internet office created a special email address for Pope Benedict, but there won’t be one this time for Pope Francis.

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Benedict XVI was elected pope in 2005, the Vatican quickly (just 16 hours after his election) set up six different email addresses by language for well-wishers to send greetings and prayers.

Just two days after the accounts were set up, the Vatican Internet office received over 56,000 emails. But as more people found out about the addresses, the servers soon crashed, prompting the Vatican, this time around, to no longer continue the shortly-lived tradition.

Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told journalists today that the 2005 initiative triggered “an avalanche  of messages that put the system in crisis.”

The small staff at the Internet office is also “unable to respond to the number of emails that come in,” therefore,  an email address is not currently in the cards, he said.

“I don’t know if it will happen in the future, but for now there are no plans,” he said.

So greetings, messages and notes will have to go via Twitter @Pontifex. Or if 140 characters aren’t enough, there’s always the old-fashioned way: via snail mail to His Holiness Pope Francis, 00120 Vatican City State. But don’t go overboard or the poor papal postmen lugging all those the letters might protest and discourage that option too!

Pope Francis’ schedule and his improvs

Pope Francis prays at Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens March 16. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis prays at Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens March 16. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican released an official schedule for Pope Francis March 17-24, but if his first two days as pope were any indication, the schedule was only an outline destined to expand at a moment’s notice.

The only event on the new pope’s schedule March 15 was an audience with the world’s cardinals. But shortly before that meeting, he shocked the receptionist at the Jesuit headquarters by telephoning the order’s superior general; he made an evening visit to a Rome clinic to visit 90-year-old Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mejia who had had a heart attack; and then he stopped at the replica of the grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican gardens to pray before a statue of Mary.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said the pope spent 20 minutes visiting privately with Cardinal Mejia at the Pius XI clinic before visiting the clinic’s intensive care unit, greeting doctors and other staff members, then praying in the chapel with the Sisters of St. Joseph, who operate the facility.

Also March 16 Pope Francis formally reconfirmed the prefects, presidents and secretaries of Vatican congregations and councils “donec aliter provideatur” (until otherwise provided), meaning for the time being. While temporary reappointments are normal at the beginning of a pontificate, the Vatican notice added that the pope intended to take “time for reflection, prayer and dialogue before making any definitive appointments or confirmations.”

The updated schedule for the pope released March 16 said Pope Francis would preside the next day at the 10 a.m. Mass in the tiny Church of St. Anne, the Vatican parish located just inside the main business entrance to the Vatican.

Pope Francis was to meet March 18 with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina.

The new pope’s installation, formally known as the Mass for the beginning of the Petrine ministry, was scheduled for March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, in St. Peter’s Square.

In addition to official government delegations, the Vatican confirmed that Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, was planning to attend. The Vatican newspaper said he would be the first patriarch of Constantinople to attend a papal installation since the Great Schism of 1054 separated Christianity between East and West.

While Patriarch Bartholomew did not attend the installation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, he was a frequent visitor to the Vatican during Pope Benedict’s pontificate.

The rest of the pope’s schedule released by the Vatican included:

– March 20 Pope Francis will meet with the delegations from Christian churches and communities that came for the installation.

– March 22 the pope will meet with diplomats accredited to the Vatican.

– March 23 Pope Francis will leave the Vatican at noon by helicopter and fly 15 minutes south to Castel Gandolfo. He will meet Pope Benedict at the papal villa there and have lunch with him.

– March 24 Pope Francis will preside over Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis explains his choice of name

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said that “as things got dangerous” in the conclave voting, he was sitting next to his “great friend” Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes “who comforted me.”

When the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went over the 77 votes needed to become pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes “hugged me, kissed me and said, ‘Don’t forget the poor.’”

Pope Francis waves to media representatives at audience. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis waves to media representatives at audience. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis told thousands of journalists March 16 that he took to heart the words of his friend and chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” the same created world “with which we don’t have such a good relationship.”

“How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor,” he told the more than 5,000 media representatives who came from around the world for the conclave and his election.

Pope Francis also said some had suggested jokingly that he, a Jesuit, should have taken the name Clement XV “to get even with Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus” in the 1700s.

The pope told the media, “You’ve really been working, haven’t you.”

While the church includes a large institution with centuries of history, he said, “the church does not have a political nature, but a spiritual one.”

Pope Francis told reporters it was the Holy Spirit who led Pope Benedict XVI to resign and it is Christ, not the pope, who leads the church.

The pope acknowledged how difficult it is for many media to cover the church as a spiritual, rather than a political institution, and he offered special thanks “to those who were able to observe and recount these events in the story of the church from the most correct perspective in which they must be read, that of faith.”

The church, he said, “is the people of God, the holy people of God because it is journeying toward an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

No one can understand the church without understanding its spiritual purpose, he said. “Christ is the pastor of the church, but his presence passes through the freedom of human beings. Among them, one is chosen to serve as his vicar on earth. But Christ is the center, the focal point.”

Thanking the reporters again for all their hard work, Pope Francis also asked them to continue trying “to discover the true nature of the church and its journey through the world, with its virtues as well as its sins.”

Communications, he said, requires study, preparation and a special attention “to truth, goodness and beauty,” which is something the church has in common with journalism.

He ended his talk by telling reporters he hoped they would grow in their knowledge of “the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the church. I entrust you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, star of the new evangelization.”

After personally greeting dozens of journalists and representatives of the Vatican press office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican newspaper and Vatican Radio, the pope came back to the microphone.

“I know that many of you are not Catholic or are not believers, so I impart my heartfelt blessing to each of you silently, respecting your consciences, but knowing that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you,” he said.

Cardinals, free to tweet again, send limited observations

ROME — The cardinal electors who voted in the conclave were cut off from all forms of external communication for the duration of the two-day voting period. But once the conclave was over, they did not immediately fill up their Twitter account with reflections on their experiences or their wishes for the new pope.

Most likely the cardinals didn’t have too much time for that. Immediately after the Pope Francis was announced to the world in St. Peter’s Square, the cardinals joined one another for dinner, then many of them gave interviews or were part of press briefings.

Since then, they had Mass with the new pope and a meeting with him, so they have not had a lot of free time on their hands.

But some have found the chance to send a few messages to their Twitter followers after the few days of imposed silence.

napierSouth African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier sent several tweets after the election of Pope Francis beginning with the March 14 message about the pope’s choice of name, quoting him: “I shall be called Francis, in memory of St Francis of Assisi!”

The cardinal described the pope’s name choice as “words that made a grown man cry with joy and wonder! More was to follow.”

He also sent the following tweets:

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan resumed tweeting March 13, saying;

His other tweets the next day were short and sweet :

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, also resumed tweeting March 13 with this message:

His subsequent tweets revealed even more joy in the moment:

The cardinal walking in Piazza Navona who became pope

Father Rosica participates in press briefing at Vatican

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Media Foundation, has been assisting Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, left, Vatican spokesman, with the daily press briefings. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who has been helping the Vatican press hall during the interregnum, gave journalists his impressions of last night’s election of Pope Francis. We thought we would share his reflections with you here:

Sunday night we were working late and when I came out of the office, we walked over to Piazza Navona and we met Cardinal Bergoglio half the way and walked with him back to the Casa del Clero [the residence where the cardinal was staying]. We had a lovely conversation on the way. And just at the end, he took my hands and he said, “Pray for me.” And I said, “Are you nervous?” and he said, “A little bit!”

He’s a wonderful man I’ve known him since 2001 when I prepared World Youth Day. The simplicity is so striking and yet it is not a simplicity that’s without a solid foundation… I was stunned at what happened last night, absolutely stunned….

I didn’t expect the pontificate to begin with “buona sera” [good evening]. He chose not to follow the beautiful ritual in Latin. But it’s clear that he is the pastor who is coming to meet his people in the diocese of Rome.

And I close my eyes, and we shouldn’t make comparisons right away, but I couldn’t help but feel the presence of John XXIII, the smile of John Paul I, that courage and firmness of John Paul II and the solid-rootedness in Jesus Christ of Benedict XVI.

So what I found last night, and I thought about a long time when I finally got home at three o’clock this morning, is that the story continues: we have a pope and we have a shepherd and he’s going to build it on a solid foundation.

Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio elected pope, takes name Francis

St. Peter holding the keys. (CNS/Paul Haring)

St. Peter holding the keys. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis.

The election March 13 came on the second day of voting, on the fifth ballot. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion to a conclave that began with many plausible candidates and no clear favorite.

The new pope was chosen by at least two-thirds of the 115 cardinal-electors from 48 countries, who cast their ballots in secret in the Sistine Chapel.

His election was announced in Latin from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to a massive crowd under the rain in the square below, and to millions watching around the world.

White smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:05 p.m., signaling that the cardinals had chosen a successor to retired Pope Benedict XVI. Two minutes later, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began pealing to confirm the election.

At 8:12 p.m., French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal in the order of deacons, appeared at the basilica balcony and read out in Latin: “I announce to you a great joy: We have a pope! The most eminent and most reverend lord, Lord Jorge Maria, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Bergoglio, who has taken for himself the name Francis.”

The crowd in the square responded with cheers, applause and the waving of rain-soaked national flags.

MORE TO COME ON catholicnews.com

Humo Blanco de la Capilla Sixtina señala nuevo pontífice

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – Sorprendiendo a las multitudes a nivel mundial, nubes de humo blancas brotarón de la chimenea en el techo de la Capilla Sixtina este 13 de marzo, lo que indica un Papa ha sido elegido en la quinta votación del cónclave.

La señal de humo se activó a las 7:05 p.m. Los 115 cardenales se reunieron para elegir el 266 sucesor de San Pedro, el nuevo líder de la Iglesia Católica. Los votos anteriores, tomados a finales del 12 de marzo, y dos votos a la mañana siguiente, resultarón en nubes de humo negro.

El Vaticano estima que dentro de una hora el cardenal Jean-Louis Tauran, el diácono cardenal de alto rango, saldrá al balcón de la Basílica de San Pedro y confirmará la elección con la frase “Habemus Papam.” (Tenemos Papa ).

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