Cardinal Bergoglio addresses the crowd in Rome as Pope Francis

BBC News…March 14, 2013 — Pope Francis has begun his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church with a private prayer ahead of Mass with cardinals later on Thursday.

He greeted people at Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria Maggiore.

The first Jesuit Pope then stopped at a side altar where St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, celebrated his first Mass at Christmas.

Pope Francis may begin appointing senior Vatican staff later.

The first Latin American pope has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world.

But the Argentine also faces a series of tough challenges.

Pope Francis will deal with the problems of his Church first of all prayerfully rather than as a CEO coming in with a new broom. We are not dealing with a normal business corporation but with a vast worldwide community of believers and prayerful people.

But the fact that the new Pope will meet the media before anyone else at a special audience on Saturday morning shows a vivid awareness that prayer may not be enough to deal with the situation facing the Catholic Church at this critical moment in its long history.

Francis is a Jesuit, a member of perhaps the most powerful and experienced religious order of the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are expert communicators and it is significant that one of the first people summoned to meet the new Pope this morning was Father Federico Lombardi, head of Vatican Radio (run for many years by the Jesuits) and the Vatican Press Office.

Under Pope Benedict, Father Lombardi was a mere functionary who had no direct access to the Pope. He could not pick up the phone and talk things through quickly – he just received orders from the Vatican Secretariat of State. That has now changed overnight.

The Church has been dogged by infighting and scandals over clerical sex abuse and alleged corruption.

“He spoke to us cordially like a father,” Reuters news agency quoted Father Ludovico Melo as saying after praying with the Pope at Santa Maria Maggiore.

“We were given 10 minutes’ advance notice that the Pope was coming.”

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio surprised many observers when it was revealed on Wednesday.

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