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February 2015: The Pope changes things up with his new cardinals

2015-12-26

To start off the month of February, the Pope led this google hangout chat with teenagers who have learning disabilities.  

ISIAH BOWER
"The use of technology has helped me overcome the problem of getting my thoughts out fast enough. What do you do when you face something difficult?

POPE FRANCIS 
"First, not get mad. It's not good to get mad. You need to stay calm. Then, I try to find a way to overcome the challenge. If I can't, then I tough it out.” 

"Hey Pope Francis, I'd like to ask you a question. Do you like to take pictures and then download them on your computer?”

POPE FRANCIS
 "Do you want me to tell you the truth...I'm pretty bad with computers. I don't know how to manage them. How embarrassing!”

It was part of an educational project supported by the Pope through a program called Scholas. Its mission is to promote the exchange of knowledge and to improve education. 

February was also the month that these showers were installed for the homeless who live on the streets, near the Vatican.

There are several complete bathrooms with a small space for a barber.  The showers are available every day except when there are ceremonies in Saint Peter's Square.

EMMANUELE
"This is very important for me. At least I'll have the chance to take a shower. That way, I won't smell bad and people hopefully won't judge me when they see me out on the street or on the metro.” 

DAVIDE CASALINO
"This really helps us out a lot. It's great for people like us who don't have a house or any belongings.” 

MARCO PATON
Volunteer Hairdresser
"They're really grateful to have this opportunity. It's a chance for them to look descent and have a moment of dignity.” 

While he was on  his way to a local parish to celebrate Mass, the Pope decided to stop at alittle known neighborhood in the  outskirts of Rome. He arrived without notice. This is how locals reacted. 

"O God! How exciting!”
"A round of applause.”

Afterwards, they all prayed together. 

"How many of you speak Spanish?”
"All of us.”
"We're from South America.”

He stayed with them for about ten minutes. Before heading out, he made his usual request.

"God bless you, pray for me.”
"We are very happy.”
"Pray for me.”
"Always.”

The most important decision in February was adding a few names to the College of Cardinals. He named 15 new cardinals who have the right to vote in an eventual conclave. With this conclave, Europeans ceased to be the majority.

Benedict XVI participated in the ceremony with little fanfare. He sat next to the rest of the cardinals. The Pope made it a point to personally greet him. 

Pope Francis named cardinals from countries that had never one like Panama, Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde.

The Pope laid out their new responsibilities.

POPE FRANCIS 
"It is not a kind of accessory, a decoration, like an honorary title. Rather, it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community.”

Afterwards came the embrace and imposition of the birettas. 

CARD. JOHN ATCHERLY DEW
"I think just trying to continue the way Pope Francis is leading the church. And saying to our priests and our people, we have to be out there with the people.” 

CARD. SOANE PATITA PAINI MAFI
"I am sure there will be greater responsibility. But perhaps I think this way more, I am looking forward for more of this richness of the Church, the mystery of the Church.” 

CARD. FRANCIS XAVIER KRIENGSAK KOVITHAVANIJ
LAUGHS "What I am here now, is almost older than it could be.”

CARD. JOSÉ LUIS LACUNZA
"Satisfied but tired. Or let's say it the other way, tired but satisfied.”

CARD. ALBERTO SUÁREZ INDA
"Thankful to God that I am not alone, because this is a mission we must complete together."

The end of the month coincided with the beginning of Lent, and the Pope led his assistants in spiritual exercises about 20 miles outside of Rome. They spent five days in silence and prayer. The first appointment was at 7:30a.m.  The last was at 7:30p.m. to eat dinner.

Afterwards, they got on a bus and returned together to Rome to resume their daily tasks. 

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