Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pope by the conclave of Roman Catholic Cardinals on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. He has chosen to take the papal name of Francesco, or Franciscus in Latin, and will be known as Pope Francis.
Hailing from Argentina, Bergoglio is the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit pope.
The new pontiff greeted the millions of cheering Catholics assembled in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, as well as those watching from around the world, with a calm, confident and even conversational demeanor. He thanked the people, the bishops, and then led the crowd in prayer for emeritus pope, Benedict XVI.
“Let us begin this journey together, this journey for the Roman Catholic Church,” said Pope Francis. “It’s a journey of friendship, of love, of trust and faith.”
Pope Francis, 76, was born in Buenos Aires, and was Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 until last year. He was also the ordinariate for the Eastern Churches. He is known for his humility, simplicity of living, and “practical approach to poverty,” according to The Guardian. For example, in Argentina, he has engaged in ongoing outreach to the poor, cooks for himself, and rides the bus/public transportation instead of hiring a car and chauffeur.
He is also against same-sex marriage, use of contraception, and premarital sex,
according to the National Catholic Reporter. He has been, however, critical of clerical privilege, and criticized priests who refused to baptize children out of wedlock.
Brooklyn Catholics react
When the white smoke puffed out of the chimney pipe above the Sistine Chapel where the conclave of 115 cardinals were sequestered for three days, John Heyer II, development officer of the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, was in the foundation’s offices with co-workers.
“Some of us had automatic ringtones on our phones to notify us [when the white smoke appeared], so we gathered around a computer screen to watch together,” said Heyer. “Obviously, there was a lot of anticipation as we waited.”
Once Pope Francis was announced as the new pontiff, Heyer said “it’s not that surprising that he’s Latin American because it seems very fitting that the person elected would not be from Europe, [but] the big buzz is the fact that he’s a Jesuit, as well as the name he took – Francis.
“Francis means Franciscan, humble, simple, social justice-centered [and] Jesuit [brings to mind] a teacher, theological-mindedness, but also at the same time being to the left of the mainstream of the Church and kind of pushing the Church,” he said. “Pastorally, morally – what is he going to emphasize? Where can he help the Church mend fences, grow and reconcile? . . . What does this mean for the church going forward?”
Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn shared the observation. “He’s a very holy and humble man,” he said. “I think he’s a man who can bring a lot of trust back to the papacy.”
Added Heyer, “the Christian message is about love. If that’s the direction we can go in, then I think we’re going towards a good place.”
Reporting contributed by Maggie Hayes and Terence M. Cullen.