White smoke. Bells pealing. A great curtain pulled back. “Habemus Papam!” And then, there he stood, a singular man who now embodies the profound hopes, large challenges, boundless expectations for the Catholic Church that now numbers more than one billion souls in the global village.
A humble name for the world’s most influential spiritual leader, a man with a reputation for humility, commitment to social justice and service to the poor.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina emerged from the 24-hour Conclave as the choice of the cardinals to become the 226th pontiff. His election signals many “firsts” — first pope from the Americas, particularly from South America, first pope who is not a European (though yes, his father was an Italian immigrant to Argentina, hence that melodic Italian surname). First Jesuit pope — now, that is worthy of a big headline!
In the days to come, we will learn so much more about our new spiritual leader. That solitary figure in white standing on the balcony before hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators has taken on one of the world’s most difficult, influential and truly powerful jobs. We wish him well, and pray that he has the strength to be the leader the Catholic Church needs now and in the years to come.
We will have more discussion soon about the issues Pope Francis faces, but for now, on this very first day of his papacy, the Trinity Community sends him many congratulations and best wishes.
Viva il papa!
See my interviews on WUSA TV9:
What does the groundbreaking pope mean for us? (Interview with Andrea Roane, March 14, 2013)
Will Pope Francis change Church policies? (Interview with Lesli Foster, March 13, 2013)
Does a new pope matter to non-Catholics? (March 11, 2013)
And on radio WTOP News interview on Pope Benedict’s Legacy (February 11, 2013)
Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez