In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI (2005–13) announced that he would retire from the Apostolic See. As the media frequently pointed out, this decision made him the first pontiff to do so since Gregory XII resigned under pressure in 1415, and the first to abdicate voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294. Suddenly, the medieval papacy had surfaced in discussions of the modern one. The news grabbed headlines and attention from every corner of the globe, not just among the world’s Roman Catholic Christians, numbering well over a billion. Crowds gathered in the main square before the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome when the papal conclave began its deliberations to elect a successor. After two days, on March 13, 2013, the announcement was made from the church’s main balcony overlooking the square, “Habemus papam,” that is, “We have a pope,” the traditional declaration of a successful election since the fifteenth century. The new pope, Argentinian cardinal priest Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took the name Francis (2013–) after the thirteenth-century saint famed for his commitment to poverty, symbolizing Bergoglio’s own concern for the poor in the era of globalization.
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Brett Edward Whalen
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