Today at just past one in the afternoon when the bells of the abbey on campus tolled, cell phones buzzed and someone shouted “white smoke!” it was a sure sign…the conclave of cardinals had done its job. We had a new pope! The frenzy on campus was thrilling. People gathered around every available TV to watch EWTN and see live coverage from the Vatican. My college projected the coverage in our auditorium where people talked and cheered and clapped. I skipped my two o’clock class to see it; it’s a big deal after all. We were lucky to have one of our Spanish professors in the room to translate when the pope gave his speech. Some time during all the craziness of that hour and half someone shouted “it’s a good day to be a Catholic!” and was met by raucous applause. I might add, especially a Catholic at a college like Benedictine.
Our new Pope is incredible. Of course, how could one not say that? But the stories I’ve heard over the last few hours are about a man of austere humility. A cardinal who took the bus to his office. A man who washed the feet of AIDS patients. He is reported to be a doctrinally conservative person and strong on family issues. Authentic Catholics know these things to be important.
Moreover are new pope is the first in more ways then one. First, he is the first pope to take the name Francis. Pope Francis. I’ll have to get used to that. It’s all still so surreal. We have a pope!!! There’s been speculation all day about whether Cardinal Bergoglio chose Francis after St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier (they all seem to have forgotten St. Francis De Sales). But according to this article from the Augustine Institute he chose his name as a reference to St. Francis of Assisi who was instructed by God to rebuild the church through personal holiness.
Secondly, Pope Francis is our first pope born in the Western hemisphere! Not quite American. But from the Americas nonetheless. He’s Argentinian and has served for the last several years as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Thirdly, Pope Francis is our first Jesuit pope. That is, no member of the order of Jesuits has ever been pope before. When I heard though, something inside of me was concerned. A Jesuit? Most Catholics will tell you Jesuits have a reputation for being, shall we say loose or gray about certain matters of the faith? However, Pope Francis’ record as a pro-life, pro-true marriage cardinal speaks well for him. And as he was chosen by the Holy Spirit, I am confident Pope Francis will do a fine job.
Pope Francis gave an amazing speech on the balcony after he was elected. The first thing he said to the people in St. Peter’s Square, Catholics around the world, and the world in general as pope? Buenos aires. Good Evening. More over he lead us in prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict and asked for blessing from the people before giving his blessing to all of us.
You can also check out this article from one of our professors here at Benedictine.