atican March 14 :“Habemus papem” — the Catholic Church has a new pope.
Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis when he was elected Wednesday on the fifth ballot cast by the College of Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome.
The 76-year-old Argentinian is the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit to become pope, and the first pontiff to select the name Francis. Bergoglio was reportedly one of the main front runners during the last papal election.
Area Catholics spent much of the day Wednesday watching the announcement on television or online.
“My daughter called me and said, ‘Mom, we’ve got a new pope,’” said Joan Cullen, of Marine City. “From then on, I’ve been watching it on TV.
“I think he’s a very humble man and a very caring man — that’s what came across to me.”
Dennis Crimmins, a deacon for Holy Trinity Parish, said he had never heard of Bergoglio before he appeared at the Vatican window Wednesday.
But Crimmins said he was impressed by what he’s learned of the man since.
“The fact that he’s from the Western Hemisphere and from a developing country is, I think, a great sign for the Catholic Church,” Crimmins said.
Crimmins said he’s learned the new pontiff opted not to live in the cardinal’s palace in Argentina. Instead, he lived in an apartment and took a bus to work each day.
“He’s a man of humility, by all means,” Crimmins said. “We need a leader of great holiness, and I think we need a leader of great humility. … All indications are that’s what we’re getting.”
While many Catholics were not familiar with the Argentinian cardinal before Wednesday, Crimmins said it shouldn’t be a source of worry.
“The church has a history of rallying behind the pope once the pope is elected,” Crimmins said. “It wasn’t somebody that I was expecting, but he seems like a wonderful choice — a choice for our times.”
In a press release sent out shortly after the announcement, Archbishop Allen Vigneron, of the Archdiocese of Detroit, welcomed the new pope.
“I join all the faithful in thanking Christ for this grace, which we have prayed ardently for in these days,” he said.
The Rev. Lee Acervo, administrator for St. Edwards On-the-Lake in Lakeport, also didn’t know much about the new pontiff before Wednesday, but he was impressed by the name the pope took.
He said the pope’s name has its roots in two Catholic saints — St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his generosity to the poor, and St. Francis Xavier, an evangelist who brought the faith to new parts of the world.
“I think those two attributes are very important for the church in the modern world,” Acervo said.
Other area Catholics also approved of the pope’s name.
“I’m very excited for him and I love his name,” said Karen Clor, director of religious education at Holy Trinity Parish in Port Huron. “If he took it from St. Francis of Assisi, it’s an example of charitable living and giving.”
“The choice of the name of Francis is indicative of his help of the poor and people in need,” Crimmins said.
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