Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass Marking First Anniversary of Election of Pope Francis

March 16, 2014

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today celebrated Mass to commemorate the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis and to “recognize with great joy the extraordinary blessing that he is to the Church.”

“It has been a year since the white smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, and what a year it has been,” Cardinal Wuerl told those assembled at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “In the short time [Pope Francis] has served as Successor of Saint Peter, the whole world has come to see in him a radiant figure.”

Calling Pope Francis “a focal point of faith renewal in the lives of many people,” Cardinal Wuerl discussed how people, especially those who have been disillusioned with the Church, seem more open to receiving the pope’s message that “wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life.” (Pope Francis message for Lent 2014)

“Pope Francis calls us to reflect that the challenge of Jesus that we be caring, compassionate, loving people working to establish a realm of truth, peace and justice requires of us great interior strength,” Cardinal Wuerl continued. “It is for that reason that we are called to pray and to invoke God’s grace on all that we do.”

Cardinal Wuerl encouraged those present at the Mass to, like Pope Francis, “walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi as disciples of Jesus who seek to bring his love and hope to others, particularly the poor and neglected in our world.”

“The invitation of Pope Francis to a fresh way of living the Gospel is a bright beacon of hope in our world. Let us simply offer thanks to God for this pastor of souls,” Cardinal Wuerl concluded.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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