Pope Francis Elected: Howard County Catholics Excited by Choice
The Rev. Msgr. Joseph Luca said, "He is known as an exceptionally humble, gentle person with a heart for the downtrodden and the poor."
Catholics around the world and in Howard County are reacting with excitement to the news that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected pope.
At 3:22 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Bergoglio, who took the name Pope Francis, appeared on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square after news outlets reported that white smoke was pouring from a Sistine Chapel chimney, signaling the election of a new pope.
Roman Catholic Church cardinals began meeting Tuesday at the Vatican. The 115 voting cardinals took four or five votes over two days, USA Today reported.
The Guardian describes Bergoglio as "a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus and has a practical approach to poverty."
In Howard County, the news of the new pope was met with excitement.
"I'm delighted, I'm thrilled," said Rev. Msgr. Joseph Luca, of St. Louis Parish in Clarksville. "He is known as an exceptionally humble, gentle person with a heart for the downtrodden and the poor."
"I think his name says it all," said Rev. Luca, who explained that the first thing many Catholics think of when hearing about St. Francis is the prayer that begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."
Luca said in today's modern world, where we struggle to find peace, he hopes that Pope Francis will work for peace and unity, "Not only within the church, but within humanity."
In regards to the speedy decision by the cardinals, Luca said he was "completely surprised." He said he read the media reports about the possibility of a long conclave due to divisions inside the Vatican, but was happy with the quick decision.
"In a very short period of five votes, they elected someone who surprises the world, but does so in a very delightful way," said Luca.
The Rev. Gerard Bowen of St. John the Evangelist Church in Columbia told Explore Howard that the choice of Bergoglio is, "a very hopeful sign in the church that the cardinals, rather than selecting someone deeply involved with (the Vatican), they've chosen someone who is a shepherd for the poor."
How are you reacting to the news of Pope Francis' election? Tell us in the comments.