Father Kevin Smith jokes with Sister Therma Ajoc on Wednesday as they speak to students of St. Augustine’s School upon hearing a new pope has been elected for the Catholic Church. Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will be known as Pope Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican following his election on Wednesday. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Clergy and staff at St. Augustine’s Cathedral react to the news of a new pope for the Catholic Church on Wednesday afternoon. Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will now be known as Francis I.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
While tens of thousands of people stood in St. Peter’s Square to watch white smoke billow from the smokestack above the Sistine Chapel, shortly after 1 p.m the bells at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Brandon rang with the news a new pope had been elected.
"I’m really happy and glad that he’s from Argentina," 13-year-old Laura Acosta said of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who after two days was elected the 266th pope.
Originally from Colombia, Acosta was excited that the cardinals had elected the first pope from South America.
Her friend, Yosselyn Villeda, who moved to Brandon from El Salvador five years ago, was also thrilled that the new pope would speak her native language.
"It is a very happy and joyful feeling to know that the Pope speaks Spanish and is from South America," Villeda said.
Both girls stood in St. Augustine’s, where they attend Catholic school, with smiles on their faces after hearing the news.
Bergoglio, who will be known as Pope Francis, will have much to do in his new role and Villeda said it can’t hurt to bring a new perspective to the church’s top job.
"People believe in different things, but at the same time we all believe in the same God," Villeda said.
She said she has learned a lot from her experience with the church in Canada versus El Salvador.
"It’s a good thing to be here and experience the Catholic church in Canada and how it is back home."
Checking his Twitter feed, Father Kevin Smith delivered the news to his congregation yesterday afternoon. Hugs and shouts of joy echoed the building when he announced the news.
Rev. Michael Tkachuk of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church said the news caught him off guard as leading into the election it was widely believed to be a three-man race between cardinals from Canada, Italy and Brazil.
"It was a surprise," Tkachuk said. "I thought it might be the cardinal from Canada, or maybe I was hoping it was going to be, but it’s good because whoever it is hopefully he will do the job that he is expected to do."
Tkachuk didn’t shy away either, saying that the new pope will be expected to reach out to supporters and deal with some of the issues that have tarnished the church’s reputation in some people’s minds.
"It means we have a new leader and it means he will meet all of the problems head on and try to get them solved the best way that we can," Tkachuk said.
"There are quite a few challenges, the scandals that have been plaguing the Vatican. The pope that was there was finding it hard to handle it because of his age, but he will be assisting the new pope until he gets enculturated into his position and we’ll progress on from there."
Elected on the fifth ballot, Bergoglio was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable considering that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval caused by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
"I’m very happy that we have a new leader that will lead us into the future and we pray for him and hope for the best," Tkachuk said.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from The Associated Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013