Area Catholics react to election of Pope Francis

By Tony Gutiérrez

Associate Editor

North Texas Catholic

March 15, 2013

The faithful of the Fort Worth Diocese were filled with excitement as the white smoke blew out of the Sistine Chapel in St. Peter Square Wednesday evening, March 13, building anticipation until newly-elected Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, stepped onto the balcony and offered his blessing for all those gathered, and all those watching via television and other media.

Pope Francis is the first pope from the Western Hemisphere and Latin America, the first Jesuit to be elected pope, and the first pope to take the name “Francis.”

“The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth gives thanks to God for guiding the College of Cardinals and granting them wisdom in selecting our new shepherd, Pope Francis,” said Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Stephen Berg in a prepared statement sent to local media.

“In the Gospel of St. Matthew 18:16, we read: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ It is upon this promise of Jesus Christ that we pray that the Holy Spirit give Pope Francis the necessary wisdom to guide the Church in the midst of the world. We look forward to Pope Francis leading all Catholics and people of good will, in celebration of God’s greatest gift to mankind, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ his son, during the Easter observances to come,” he continued.

Deacon Popo Gonzalez of Immaculate Conception Parish in Denton expressed his excitement at having a Holy Father with Latin American roots.

“I feel good about him — he knows our culture well,” Dcn. Gonzalez said. “Not that the other popes didn’t, but he knows both the language and the culture from the heart.”

Citing reports that as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis lived in a stove-heated apartment rather than a mansion, and took public transportation rather than using, Dcn. Gonzalez said he expects the new Holy Father to teach the faithful about simplicity.

“Pastoral care is going to be one of his main things — something that sometimes gets away from us,” Dcn. Gonzalez said. “That’s something that really attracted me. He’s living the simple life, something we’re all called to do, but we don’t do it. ”

Within two hours of the pope’s first blessing, Dcn. Gonzalez led a 3:30 p.m. communion service at the Denton State School and was able to pray for Pope Francis in the intentions.

“I thought it was real neat to have a new pope and we prayed for him right after the election.”

Heather Reynolds, CEO of Catholic Charities Fort Worth said that after the bells of next-door Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish started ringing, many of the employees gathered in the break room to watch the television.

“We at Catholic Charities Fort Worth felt so blessed to hear the news of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis,” Reynolds said in an e-mail. “As we heard the news, we were filled with joy, not only at the fact that our Holy Father had been named, but that the press quickly went onto to cite his commitment to the poor among us and his work with the poor in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. What a validation for our work at Catholic Charities! We were so excited to hear about the compassion that he bears for the least of our brothers and sisters among us. We are looking forward to the days ahead for our Church and to see his ministry of living the Gospel as it unfolds to us all.”

Pope Francis’ election came as a surprise to many, as he was not listed as a “candidate” in the days leading up to the Conclave that saw many speculating who among a list of as many as 20 cardinals at times would be elected the new pope.

“I’m very pleased the cardinals chose someone from the emerging Church, and I’m excited about the perspective he’ll bring to the office,” said Meg Hogan, diocesan Tribunal director. “We’re very surprised because he was on nobody’s ‘short list,’ and the Holy Spirit moves in ways nobody can fathom, and 35 years ago, this sort of out-of-the-box thinking produced John Paul II.”

In his statement, Msgr. Berg urged the faithful in the diocese to continue to pray for Pope Francis and for the diocese.

“We look forward to the day when Pope Francis will name a new bishop to shepherd our diocese and to lead us on the path to holiness,” Msgr. Berg said. “I ask all people within the Diocese of Fort Worth to join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s goodness in giving us Pope Francis. May the Holy Spirit pour out his blessing and assistance upon him and us, for the good of the entire Church.”

The faithful of the Fort Worth Diocese were filled with excitement as the white smoke blew out of the Sistine Chapel in St. Peter Square Wednesday evening, March 13, building anticipation until newly-elected Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, stepped onto the balcony and offered his blessing for all those gathered, and all those watching via television and other media.

Published (until 4/22/2013)