New Pope Francis I Elected: Catholics in Sewickley React
The white smoke appears Wednesday, signaling that the conclave had chosen Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church. Locals across the Sewickley Valley respond.
Karin Masterani said everyone in the office at St. James Parish kept watch, checking the online news and waiting for the moment when the white smoke would eventually appear.
She called Wednesday's election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope an exciting moment. He will assume the papal name Francis I.
"It's another historical part in our life," said Masterani, office manager at St. James.
Pope Francis, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was greeted by thousands Wednesday who gathered at the Vatican. Pope Francis is the first pontiff to come from the Americas after dominance by Catholic leaders from Europe. He's also the first Jesuit pope. After the announcement, several church bells rang out, including those at Good Samaritan Church in Ambridge.
The Rev. Thomas Burke of St. James Parish said he too was surprised by the announcement of Pope Francis, whom many call an "unexpected" choice.
"He seems like a nice humble man," Burke added.
Pope Francis I is named for Saint Francis of Assisi, a humble man who believed he was commanded by God to rebuild the Church.
Parishioner Heather Saftner, whose children attend St. James School and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, said she's personally glad for an "unexpected" pick. She said she believes that "God truly works in unexpected ways."
"It was really fun to see and hear the excitement amongst my children and in their Catholic schools. It's great to watch history happen. Now, all Catholics can pray with faith, hope and love for Pope Francis I and his leadership," Saftner said.
According to the Guardian, Bergoglio is a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus and has a practical approach to poverty: when he was appointed a cardinal, Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor.
Pope Francis I was ordained for the Jesuits on Dec. 13, 1969 during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel. He was created a cardinal by John Paul II on Feb. 21, 2001. He replaces Pope Benedict XVI after he resigned at the end of February. The conclave of Cardinals to select the new pope began Tuesday morning.
Masterani said she has a cousin who lives in Milan and has been talking to him on Facebook about the events unfolding at the Vatican. He's promised to save her some newspapers from today. She plans to keep them for her son.
Tell Us: What do you think about the selection? In what direction should the new Pope take the church? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.