BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN
The papal conclave elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the first South American and Jesuit pope, after one of the shortest conclaves in history. He selected the papal name Francis I.
The decision came just a day after the voting began on Tuesday, March 12, following the official end of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s reign at the end of February.
“Let us begin this journey together, this journey for the Roman Catholic Church,” said Pope Francis to a packed-tight crowd in St. Peter’s Square. “It’s a journey of friendship, of love, of trust and faith.”
Pope Francis, 76, was born in Buenos Aires, and was Archbishop of his native city from 1998 until last year. His career, thus far, has been spent solely in Argentina. He is the 266th pope and the first non-European choice in over 1,000 years.
“He’s a very holy and humble man,” said Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, which also serves Queens. “I think he’s a man who can bring a lot of trust back to the papalcy.”
In Catholic history, St. Francis was a man who came to serve the poor, and there has also never been a pope named Francis.
“It could mean that he’s not looking towards other papacies as inspiration,” said John Heyer, also of the Archdiocese.
Pamela Shea-Byrnes, head of Campus Ministry at St. John’s, said she was impressed by the new pontiff’s name choice – inspired by St. Francis of Assisi.
A champion of helping the poor, the new pope understood the message of Francis, which calls for those who can help to aid those in need, Shea-Byrnes said.
Much like St. Francis, Shea-Brynes said she believes the new pontiff will reinvigorate the church and help rebuild it.
During his first address as Pope, he requested that his followers “always pray for one another,” and asked for the crowd’s blessing, which evolved into a moment of silence throughout the previously rambunctious square.
As a Latin American, he represents nearly half of the world’s Catholic population, according to Heyer. Also as a Jesuit, Pope Francis could possibly bring a new open-mindedness to the church, as Jesuits are seen to be.
“[Jesuits] realize we live in a multifaceted, multicultural world,” said Heyer, who hopes Pope Francis can apply these attributes to the Catholic world.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis is against same-sex marriage, use of contraception and premarital sex. He has been, however, against clerical privilege, and criticized priests who refused to baptize children out of wedlock.
“The church needs to reconcile in many places and build back bridges,” said Heyer. “The Christian message is about love. If that’s the direction we can go in, then I think we’re going towards a good place.”