13 March 2013

Pope Francis is elected as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.

Bergoglio was elected pope on 13 March 2013, the second day of the 2013 papal conclave, taking the papal name Francis. Francis was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave. The Habemus Papam was delivered by Cardinal protodeacon Jean-Louis Tauran. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn later said that Bergoglio was elected following two supernatural signs, one in the conclave and hence confidential, and a Latin-American couple of friends of Schönborn who whispered Bergoglio’s name in Schönborn’s ear; Schönborn commented “if these people say Bergoglio, that’s an indication of the Holy Spirit”.

Instead of accepting his cardinals’ congratulations while seated on the papal throne, Francis received them standing, reportedly an immediate sign of a changing approach to formalities at the Vatican. During his first appearance as pontiff on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, he wore a white cassock, not the red, ermine-trimmed mozzetta used by previous popes. He also wore the same iron pectoral cross that he had worn as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, rather than the gold one worn by his predecessors.

After being elected and choosing his name, his first act was bestowing the Urbi et Orbi blessing to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Before blessing the crowd, he asked those in St. Peter’s Square to pray for his predecessor, “the bishop emeritus of Rome” Pope Benedict XVI, and for himself as the new “bishop of Rome”.

Pope Francis held his papal inauguration on 19 March 2013 in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. He celebrated Mass in the presence of various political and religious leaders from around the world. In his homily Pope Francis focused on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the liturgical day on which the Mass was celebrated.

In St. Peter’s Square
At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor”, which had made Bergoglio think of the saint. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.”

This is the first time that a pope has been named Francis. On the day of his election, the Vatican clarified that his official papal name was “Francis”, not “Francis I”, i.e. no regnal number is used for him. A Vatican spokesman said that the name would become Francis I if and when there is a Francis II. It is the first time since Pope Lando’s 913–914 reign that a serving pope holds a name not used by a predecessor.

Francis also said that some cardinal-electors had jokingly suggested to him that he should choose either “Adrian”, since Pope Adrian VI had been a reformer of the church, or “Clement” to settle the score with Pope Clement XIV, who had suppressed the Jesuit order. In February 2014, it was reported that Bergoglio, had he been elected in 2005, would have chosen the pontifical name of “John XXIV” in honor of Pope John XXIII. It was said that he told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano: “John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him”.

Inauguration of Pope Francis, 19 March 2013
On 16 March 2013, Pope Francis asked all those in senior positions of the Roman Curia to provisionally continue in office. He named Alfred Xuereb as his personal secretary. On 6 April he named José Rodríguez Carballo as secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a position that had been vacant for several months. Francis abolished the bonuses paid to Vatican employees upon the election of a new pope, amounting to several million Euros, opting instead to donate the money to charity. He also abolished the €25,000 annual bonus paid to the cardinals serving on the Board of Supervisors for the Vatican bank.

On 13 April 2013, he named eight cardinals to a new Council of Cardinal Advisers to advise him on revising the organizational structure of the Roman Curia. The group included several known as critics of Vatican operations and only one member of the Curia. They are Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Reinhard Marx from Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; George Pell from Australia; Seán O’Malley from the United States; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. He appointed Bishop Marcello Semeraro secretary for the group and scheduled its first meeting for 1–3 October.

12 March 1994

The first female priests are ordained by the Church of England.

Since the Church of England’s split with Rome in 1534, it’s always trodden a dainty path between the Catholicism of the High Church, and the Protestantism of the Reformation. That’s meant a fair few compromises. But one thing it didn’t compromise on for nearly 400 years was ordaining women as priests.

The idea was first tentatively floated in 1920. But it took until 1975 for the General Synod to pass a motion saying it had “no fundamental objections” to the ordination of women to the priesthood. But it didn’t actually do anything concrete about it.

In 1985 it passed laws allowing women to be deacons. But understandably, pressure continued to allow women into the priesthood.

That didn’t happen for a while. In 1988, the General Synod approved the draft legislation to allow women priests. It finally voted in favour of women priests in 1992, after a five-hour debate – and by just two votes.

And so, on 12 March 1994 in Bristol Cathedral, 32 women were ordained as priests.

But a lot of people weren’t happy. In fact, 400 vicars were so opposed to the idea of women priests that they flounced off en masse to the Roman Catholic Church.

And for those who stayed, but who couldn’t abide the idea of a woman in the pulpit, the rather bonkers plan of ‘flying bishops’ was devised – traditionalist bishops who could swoop down from on high, bringing manly ministrations to parishes who wanted their vicar to be a chap.

It took another 20 years for the even more outlandish idea of women bishops to be accepted, however. The Church only formally adopted legislation to allow that in November 2014. The Rt Rev Libby Lane, was ordained as the Bishop of Stockport in January 2015.

11 March 2006

Michelle Bachelet is inaugurated as first female president of Chile.

On January 15, 2006, Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first woman president-elect. Bachelet came in first in the December 2005 election but did not manage to win a majority in that race, so she faced a runoff in January against her nearest opponent, billionaire businessman, Sebastian Pinera. Earlier, she was minister of defense in Chile, the first woman in Chile or all of Latin America to serve as a minister of defense.

Bachelet, a Socialist, is generally considered a center-leftist. While three other women have won presidential elections in the Americas, Bachelet was the first to win a seat without first becoming known through a husband’s prominence.

Her term in office ended in 2010 because of term limits; she was reelected in 2013 and began serving another term as president in 2014.

Michelle Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile, on September 29, 1951. Her father’s background is French; her paternal great-grandfather emigrated to Chile in 1860. Her mother had Greek and Spanish ancestry.

Her father, Alberto Bachelet, was an air force brigadier general who died after being tortured for his opposition to Augusto Pinoche’s regime and support of Salvador Allende.

Her mother, an archaeologist, was imprisoned in a torture center with Michelle in 1975, and went into exile with her.

In her early years, before her father’s death, the family moved frequently, and even lived in the United States briefly when her father worked for the Chilean Embassy.

Michelle Bachelet studied medicine from 1970 to 1973 at the University of Chile in Santiago, but her education was interrupted by the military coup of 1973, when Salvador Allende’s regime was overthrown. Her father died in custody in March of 1974 after being tortured. The family’s funds were cut off. Michelle Bachelet had worked secretly for the Socialist Youth, and was imprisoned by the Pinochet regime in 1975 and held in the torture center at Villa Grimaldi, along with her mother.

From 1975-1979 Michelle Bachelet was in exile with her mother in Australia, where her brother had already moved, and East Germany, where she continued her education as a pediatrician.

Bachelet married Jorge Dávalos while still in Germany, and they had a son, Sebastián. He, too, was a Chilean who had fled the Pinochet regime. In 1979, the family returned to Chile. Michelle Bachelet completed her medical degree at the University of Chile, graduating in 1982.

She had a daughter, Francisca, in 1984, then separated from her husband about 1986. Chilean law made divorce difficult, so Bachelet was unable to marry the physician with whom she had her second daughter in 1990.

Bachelet later studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.

Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s Minister of Health in 2000, serving under socialist President Ricarco Lagos. She then served as Minister of Defense under Lagos, the first woman in Chile or Latin America to hold such a post.

Bachelet and Lagos are part of a four-party coalition, Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia, in power since Chile restored democracy in 1990. Concertacion has focused on both economic growth and spreading the benefits of that growth throughout segments of society.

After her first term as president, 2006 – 2010, Bachelet took a position as the Executive Director of UN Women.

10 March 1977

Astronomers discover the rings of the planet Uranus.

For being the third largest body in our solar system not including the Sun, there really wasn’t much info about Uranus until the invention of powerful modern telescopes. While astronomers have known of it’s existence since the 16th century, it wasn’t until 1781 that Englishman William Hershel confirmed it as the seventh planet from the sun.

Named after Zeus’s grandfather Uranus, best remembered for being castrated by his son Saturn, the hilariously named planet was only a blue blip until 1977. Astronomers using the Kuiper Airborne Observatory discovered a series of rings the circled Uranus around it’s uniquely tilted axis. This marked the second such celestial feature alongside fellow gas giant Saturn.

Years later the solar system observer Voyager arrived near Uranus and confirmed that Uranus not only had a complicated system of rings, but also 27 moons of various sizes. With a new discovery at every turn the question remains, what new wonders does Uranus have in store for us next?