It was Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Just minutes after the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentinean cardinal who took the name Francis as the new pontiff, EWTN aired the following special. It’s very interesting to see in retrospect: https://gloria.tv/video/mQ3XCJuK6eDy4wxDwoRrzZGSu


Today, March 13, 2019, marks the sixth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. He is on retreat, outside of Rome, with 65 ranking members of the Roman Curia. Vaticannews reported that, before the morning Mass, on the third full day of the March 10-15 retreat at the Casa Divin Maestro in the town of Arricia, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect emeritus of the 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.

Cardinal Re concluded by asking the Holy Father’s blessing and assuring him they are truly close to him with great affection and sincere devotion.


Pope Francis has lived, and is going to be living out, several intense months between voyages and Synods. His sixth year was characterized by the scourge of abuse and by suffering from internal attacks; the response is an invitation to turn to the heart of the faith. (vaticannews photo)

By Andrea Tornielli (editorial – vaticannews)

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.

But a glance back at the year just passed cannot ignore the re-emergence of the abuse scandal, and of the internal divisions that led the ex-nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò to publicly call for the resignation of the Pope for the handling of the McCarrick case, precisely at the moment Pope Francis was celebrating the Eucharist with thousands of families in Dublin, proposing anew the beauty and value of Christian matrimony. Confronted with these situations, the Bishop of Rome asked all the faithful throughout the world to pray the Rosary every day, throughout the following Marian month of October, in order to unite themselves “in communion and penance, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to divide us from God and to cause divisions among ourselves”. Such a detailed request is unprecedented in the recent history of the Church. With his words and the appeal to the people of God that they pray to maintain unity in the Church, Pope Francis has made clear the gravity of the situation, and at the same time has expressed the Christian understanding that human remedies alone are not able to ensure a way forward.

Once again, the Pope has recalled what is essential: The Church is not made of super-heroes (or even super-popes), and does not move forward in virtue of its human resources or of its strategies. She knows that the evil one is present in the world, that original sin exists, and that in order to be saved we need help from above. Repeating that does not mean diminishing the personal responsibility of each individual, and even the responsibility of the institution, but of situating them in their real context.

In the Vatican communiqué announcing the Pope’s request for the Rosary last October, we read, “With this request for intercession, the Holy Father asks the faithful of the whole world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks of the devil, the great accuser; and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past”.

“In the present and in the past” – because it would be an error put the blame on those who came before us, and to present ourselves as “pure”. Even today the Church must seek from some Other to be delivered from evil. This is a fact of reality that the Pope, in continuity with his predecessors, has constantly recalled.

The Church cannot redeem herself alone from the evils that afflict her. Even from the horrible abyss of sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, one does not escape by means of the processes of self-purification, let alone by relying on those who have been charged with the role of purifier. More and more effective norms, responsibility and transparency are necessary, indeed indispensable, but they will never be enough. 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.


Five years ago, almost to the hour I am writing this column, the 2013 conclave ended and we had a new Holy Father, Pope Francis. Five years have passed, amazing years of great change and some continuity, of novel ideas, of an open, almost casual papal style.

As we said five years ago – Habemus papam! A Pope in search of the peripheries, the poor and outcast, the homeless and forgotten, migrants and refugees. Yet sometimes those peripheries are right in the heart of the world’s largest cities.

A Pope who did not wish to travel and yet so far has had 22 international apostolic trips as he does what he wants all of us to do – evangelize!

A Pope who smiles, hugs babies, caresses the ill, the disabled and disfigured and prisoners – and yet one who knows how to admonish, with or without a smile.

A Pope not afraid to dare to be different, and yet a man comfortable, as the saying goes, in his own skin.

A Pope who has tried to tweak some millennia old Church teachings as he reaches out to the faithful, pleasing some and perplexing others.

And so much more!


There are some days in life you’ll never forget, not an hour, not a minute! March 13, 2013 was one of those days, as part of the EWTN team covering the pre-conclave days and then the conclave that eventually elected Pope Francis following the retirement on February 28 of his predecessor, now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

It was a very cold, very rainy day in Rome, a long day that started ultra early for me and I don’t even remember when it ended, what time it was when I finally got to bed. I remember about 5 in the afternoon I was hoping to go home for a few minutes (I live a 5-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square) to get some notes I had prepared for the long television evening ahead and perhaps put on some fresh powder and comb my hair!

I was walking underneath the right hand colonnade, tired beyond telling but buoyed every so many yards by running into friends and many of my EWTN fans. I did make it home for a few minutes and then came back into St. Peter’s Square for the evening vote. I was due to be on air live with Fr. Mitch at 8 pm Rome time but then we got the white smoke and I hurried to reach our television location atop the building of the Augustinian Fathers.

It was harder to get out of the square than into the square but I reached our rooftop studio in time for the announcement of the new Pope and his chosen name as Pope.

And, as you will see below, the rest is history!


HABEMUS PAPAM – As EWTN’s coverage began the night of March 13, 2013, it was a guessing game before the evening vote of the elector cardinals of the College of Cardinals – then the (unexpected by many that night) white smoke and shortly afterwards the tumultuous welcome for a man named Francis, the first Jesuit and the first Latin American Pope (2 h.37 minutes)

The World Over – March 14, 2013 – the night after the conclave: Features the late Cardinal Francis George (“A conclave is a very religious experience”…”An exercise in freedom”), Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, Msgr. Anthony Figueredo, and other guests) (50 minutes)

From Vaticannews.va today: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-francis-pontificate-5-years-.html#play


A month to the day after the February 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed during the most serious school killing in the United States, favored by the extreme ease in acquiring arms, the Sant’Egidio community of Rome announced today in a press release, that they are promoting a prayer vigil on Wednesday, March 14, in the basilica of St. Mary Major to commemorate the victims and express closeness to their families.

Young Romans and American university students enrolled in American universities in Rome will participate in tomorrow’s vigil at 7 pm.. During the vigil the names of the victims will be read and for each one a candle will be lit so that no one is forgotten and a strong message is sent against every type of violence.