Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 13, 2013

The next pope: Local Catholic reaction positive

Argentinian elected as Pope Francis; first from Americas

Somerset —  

Father Michael Ramler, with St. Mildred Church in Somerset, knows the election of the Roman Catholic Church’s new leader is a historic one.
Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the first pontiff to be elected from a non-European country in more than 1,000 years.
“This is the first person from what’s called the ‘New World,’” said Ramler. “He is more cosmopolitan, a world pope, someone who has experience out of Italy and out of Europe.
“With the way demographics are, it’s fitting that they pick somebody from (South America),” Ramler added. 
It’s estimated that around 40 percent of the world’s Catholics are located in the Americas. Pope Francis, who is 76, is replacing Pope Benedict XVI, who shocked the world with the announcement of his resignation in February. Pope Francis will now lead the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics.
Ramler said he and church staff members were going about daily church business Wednesday when they saw on an office computer that white smoke — signaling a new pope had been elected — was appearing at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City in Italy. 
“All of a sudden, one of the ladies in the office started yelling that the smoke was white,” said Ramler.
The election of Pope Francis brought to an end a relatively short conclave, and he was elected during a fifth ballot.
“The process is not at all like our political election process,” said Ramler. “It’s a more prayerful, reflective process.
“They ask ‘What problems do we have? Who can lead us through this?’” Ramler added.
Pope Francis has already garnered attention for his chosen name. It's the first time the name is being used by a pope. Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor, according to Vatican spokespeople.

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