About 7:05 p.m. in Rome white smoke rose over the Vatican, and bells sounded to let the world know that the Catholic Church has a new Pope.
Surprisingly only 5 ballots were needed from the Conclave.
For the first time in 2000 years the Holy Father is not from Europe. His name was Jorge Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is 76 years old, and the first Jesuit to become Pope. Forty percent of the world’s Catholics are in South America, and the numbers are growing.
He chose the name “Francis”, significant for two reasons. Saint Francis was a simple man, and it is reported that Bergoglio lived the same way. He lived in a small apartment, instead of the luxurious accommodations afforded him. He often cooked his own meals. He refused the limousine offered to him and to all Cardinals. He walks or takes public transportation.
Secondly, by taking the name “Pope Francis I”, he referenced the words Jesus Christ spoke to St. Francis, “heal my Church”. Seemingly insurmountable problems challenge him including scandals, and the need to find a way to entice younger people to come back to the fold.
The crowd stretched further than the cameras were able to see. Flags from dozens of nations were waved constantly. Everyone was eager to see the new Pope. Rain had drizzled for three days in Rome until just a few minutes before Pope Francis appeared on the portico.
When he finally stood in front of the throng, he smiled and spoke simply. He said; “Good evening brothers and sisters.” He told the crowd that before he gave him his blessing, he asked for them to bless him. He asked for a moment of silence for them to do so, and there was no sound. He then gave his benediction to the city and the world. He stood before the crowd, everyone expecting him to turn and go inside. Instead he took the microphone, and told them he was “leaving now”, and would “pray to the Madonna tomorrow”. He then told the crowd that he hoped they would get a good rest, and to please pray for him.
What a Pope wears is significant to his state of mind. A newly elected Pope has a choice of many jeweled crosses to wear when he first appears before his ‘flock’. Pope Francis appeared to have chosen his own, simple cross.
A Monsignor who was on CBS knew him. He said he is a humble, unassuming man, who cares greatly about the poor.
Anyone, such as myself, who was raised Catholic could never have imagined a Jesuit as Pope. Jesuits are considered an “order of the Catholic Church”, unlike the Franciscans or others. And the Jesuit leader has often been called the “black Pope” by the Holy See in Rome. Jesuits and the Papacy have frequently been at odds with each other concerning matters of spiritual leadership.
Pope Francis was appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires by Pope John Paul II. Eight years ago, he received the second most votes in the Conclave at 40. His election was a mild, but welcome surprise according to priests and Catholic scholars interviewed by the networks.
Columnist-The Guardian Express