> ANSA English > News

Well-wishers congratulate pope on anniversary

Francis continuing Lenten prayers during retreat

13 March, 15:07
Well-wishers congratulate pope on anniversary (ANSA) - Rome, March 13 - As messages of congratulations and good wishes flowed in Thursday, the first anniversary of his election, Pope Francis spent the day in prayer at a Lenten retreat near Rome. "Today the pope is not doing anything special or different from other days," spokesman Vatican Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. "He is praying".

Even so, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano sent warm wishes to the pope to congratulate him on the milestone, and the U.S. bishops' administrative committee issued a statement thanking Francis for the humble and modest example he has set in his first year.

That sentiment was repeated by Italian religious leaders.

The pope's words and deeds during his first year as pontiff have made "our hearts desire to throb with the heart of Pope Francis," said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the powerful Italian Bishops Conference (CEI).

In an article, Bagnasco analyzed the first year of Pope Francis in light of what he called the key priorities of the pontificate: "poor...humble...sick....proximity...welcome," as well as his opposition to "the culture of waste".

Bagnasco said it was "significant" that Francis would spend his anniversary in prayer: "Even in this way, once more the Holy Father bears witness to the primary importance of prayer in our lives".

In northern Italy, L'Eco di Bergamo newspaper devoted an eight-page special supplement to the anniversary.

At the same time, polls in the pope's native Argentina published Thursday by newspaper La Nacion showed that Francis has a positive image among 93% of those surveyed.

"The actions of Francis has received a positive reaction among people...that is really incredible," said pollster Alejandro Catterberg, head of Poliarquia Consultores. "Whether you are Catholic or non-Catholic, the consensus is virtually absolute," added Catterberg.

As if to illustrate the pope's humble nature, he issued a tweet Thursday on the papal Twitter account, @Pontifex with the simple message: "Please pray for me".