The communication challenges facing Pope Francis

Cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the new pope. He will need to be a strong communicator in the modern age.

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It is a historic choice, as the 76-year-old Pope Francis becomes the first Latin American pontiff—nearly 40 percent of Roman Catholics are Hispanic—as well as the first pope to come from the Jesuit order.

“It’s stunning but good news,” said Susan Tellem, a partner at Tellem Grody Public Relations, Inc, and lifelong Catholic. “He’s a Jesuit, which I am happy to hear. They tend to be very tough but more forward thinking.”

Thousands of jubilant Catholics converged on a soggy St. Peter’s Square to see the new pope emerge. In the social media world, mentions related to the cardinals’ selection took over the trending topics list, among them, “Habemus Papam,” which is Latin for “We have a pope.” The phrase adorned the Vatican website, marking the first time the church made the announcement of its pope selection online.

The identity of the new pontiff was not revealed until he walked onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, surrounded by the cardinals who elected him.

In brief remarks, Pope Francis thanked the crowd in Vatican City and prayed. The crowd offered a roaring response, as the media mostly celebrated the choice.

Challenges the new pontiff will face

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