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Panel focuses on Pope Francis during launch of Crux

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley joined a panel of journalists and academics Thursday night in a discussion of the new pope that was part of an event marking the launch of The Boston Globe’s new website Crux, which will cover the Roman Catholic Church across the world.

O’Malley kicked off the night’s discussion by talking about the pontiff’s goals, actions, and thoughts.

“Pope Francis challenges us to overcome our indifference in our own lives,” he said, adding that the church is about caring and compassion.

Panelists dove into the specifics of the pope’s allure to those who have disconnected from Catholicism, as well as issues including immigration and sacraments for divorced and remarried couples.

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In between, conversations were light, especially when Crux spirituality columnist Margery Eagan asked O’Malley about being “BFFs,” or “best friends forever,” with Francis.

Crux editor Teresa M. Hanafin introduced the panel. The cardinal was joined on stage by Globe associate editor John L. Allen Jr., of Crux; Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand professor of law at Harvard University and the former US ambassador to the Holy See; Robert Christian, editor and blogger; and Hosffman Ospino, a Boston College assistant professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education.

“It’s obvious his love for ordinary people,” Allen said of the pontiff’s connection to common, everyday people. “There is an electricity about this guy, an excitement about him.”

The website, cruxnow.com, went live last week with a goal of becoming the best English-speaking medium covering the Vatican, Globe editor Brian McGrory told those gathered at the Robsham Theater Arts Center at Boston College.

“We are beyond excited at the Globe for the launch of Crux, which admittedly is an unconventional endeavor,” McGrory said. “We saw a journalistic need for more reporting, for more discussion about the church.”

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Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@
globe.com.