PRAYER FOR OUR POPE
"O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Your feet and begging You to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering up to You with holy fervor the Sacred Victim of love and peace.
Wherefore, O Lord, turn Yourself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Your infinite mercy, as a sweet Savior of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of You this day, we too ask it of You in unison with him.
Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Your great mercy, grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers up to You the Sacrifice of Your blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in his hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: 'The peace of the Lord be with you always', grant, O Lord, that Your sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen"
Pope Leo XIII
EIGHT THINGS EVERY CATHOLIC NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THE POPE
1. The Pope is not the head of the Church.
Many news reports continue to identify the Pope as the head of the Church. While understandable, they are incorrect. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. Another way to describe the Pope is as the earthly shepherd of the Church.
2. The Pope is a bishop.
The Pope is first of all a bishop - the Bishop of Rome. He is Pope because he is the Bishop of Rome, not the other way around. As Bishop of Rome, he is part of a community, a college, of all the bishops in the world.
3. The Pope is the head of the bishops.
As Bishop of Rome, the Pope is the head of all the other bishops. And, because all the bishops are united, the Pope is also a sign of unity of the worldwide Church. As a sign of unity, he helps us realize that our Catholicism is truly universal and not limited only to a single parish or diocese. The Church is the body of Christ that transcends time and space. The Pope is the symbol and the image of that universality.
4. We used to have lots of "Popes".
The word Pope comes from the Greek word pappos, which means father. It was originally a word used for all clergy (the way we call all priests "Father" today.) Gradually, only bishops were referred to as Popes. By the ninth century, only the Bishop of Rome was called "Pope".
5. The Pope has a special chair.
Like all bishops, the Pope has an important symbol: a chair, or throne, or seat. Every bishop has a chair, which is a symbol of his teaching authority. The chair is called a cathedra, and the building where the chair exists is called a cathedral. The Pope's cathedral is not St. Peter's Basilica, but rather St. John Lateran in Rome.
6. Retired Popes are not infallible.
You might have heard the phrase ex cathedra. To speak ex cathedra means to speak from the chair. When the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he is speaking with his full teaching authority. It is when he teaches ex cathedra that we say the Pope is teaching infallibly. The authority to teach infallibly resides with the office (the one who sits in the chair) and not the individual. So it is now impossible for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to speak ex cathedra since he no longer holds the teaching authority of the office.
7. The Pope rarely teaches ex cathedra.
Ordinarily, the Pope teaches in concert with all of the bishops as a sign of the unity that was mentioned before. So the use of his authority to teach ex cathedra is quite rare. It has only happened twice in the history of the Church, or at least in the modern Church: Pope Pius IX's declaration of Mary's Immaculate Conception in 1854 and Pope Pius XII's teaching about Mary's Assumption in 1950. Neither of these were new teachings. In both cases, the Popes were clarifying and confirming existing beliefs. So the Pope isn't dashing off infallible statements every day - or usually ever.
8. The Holy Spirit chooses the Pope.
A final point to clear up is how the Pope gets chosen. The Holy Spirit chooses the Pope. Most Catholics believe that, but sometimes the way we say it implies the Spirit is working in an extraordinary, miraculous way instead of in an ordinary way. Ordinarily, the Holy Spirit works through the gifts that have been given to ordinary, fallible human beings. Since 1059, the cardinals have been charged with selecting the Pope. They have gifts of the Holy Spirit, and they are duty bound to use those gifts to bring to bear as best they can in selecting the Pope. Just like all humans, they can make mistakes, and they can also make wise, inspired decisions. What doesn't happen is that the Holy Spirit somehow swoops down out of Heaven and picks one guy that nobody was ever thinking of before. The cardinals pray, debate, discuss, collaborate, and vote until two-thirds of them agree on who they believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them to choose.
FACTS ABOUT POPE FRANCIS
It's just "Francis". There is no numeral after his name. If any future Pope chooses the name "Francis", the first Francis will then become Francis I.
Other firsts: He is the first Jesuit to be named Pope and the first non-European Pope in over 1,000 years.
Languages: He speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French and German.
Compassion: Pope Francis has criticized priests who refuse to baptize babies born to single mothers; he has washed and kissed the feet of AIDS patients.
Conclave: He was proclaimed a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and participated in the 2005 papal election. Reportedly, he was the runner-up to Joseph Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI.
Heritage: Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires and is the son of Italian immigrants.
Ordination: Pope Francis is the first Pope to have been ordained a priest after Vatican II, which ended in 1965. Pope Francis was ordained a priest on December 13, 1969.
Motto: His motto, miserando atque eligendo, (because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him) comes from a homily by the Venerable Bede on Jesus' call of Saint Matthew.