New Pope Francis Elected: Wakefield Catholics React
The white smoke appeared on Wednesday, signalling that the conclave had chosen Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church. Locals across the community responded.
The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I is a moment that has Catholics around the world celebrating and also pondering the historic significance of it all.
Father William Coughlin of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wakefield said in a Wednesday phone conversation with Wakefield Patch that along with selecting the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere, a Jesuit had also just been chosen for the first time in the 450-year history of that order.
Father Coughlin said that as a cardinal in Argentina, the new Pope was known as "a very simple, quiet man" who led a simple lifestyle and was focused on helping the poor. Cardinal Bergoglio was actually second in the 2005 ballot that made Benedict the previous pope, he noted.
The new pope also made an "extraordinary" gesture in asking the crowd to bless him when he spoke to them, said Coughlin, noting that Francis had also said the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be prayers in Italian instead of Latin. Finally, the name itself is an extraordinary choice as well, said Coughlin, because along with being the first pope of that name, the cardinal had apparently chosen to adopt the name shared by either St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier.
"This is a very special thing," said Father Coughlin.
Also in Wakefield, Father Ronald Barker of St. Joseph's Parish told Wakefield Patch that he had been surprised at the choice because the new pope is a relative Vatican outsider. "It was not one of the names that people were guessing," said Father Barker.
"This the Lord has chosen for his church at this time, and we are delighted by this choice," he added.
A full biography of the new pope is available on the Vatican website at this link.