Springfield Pastor: Pope Francis 'Holds Promise' For Catholic Church
Springfield's religious leaders believe Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new pope, is humble and identifies with the poor.
Minutes after watching a television broadcasts of the new pontiff greeting Catholics from a balcony at the Vatican, Monsignor Bill Hatcher of St. James the Apostle Church said he believes Pope Francis holds promise for the church.
"Just watching television as the whole world is, I think this is very promising for the church and the world," Msgr. Bill said Wednesday afternoon, adding that he thinks the selection of an Argentine pope was a bit of a surprise. "Certainly it was a surprise to a certain extent, but it was a wise choice."
Following a conclave that was shorter than anticipated, the College of Cardinals selected 76-year-old Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit. The cardinal is the first non-European pontiff in more than 1,000 years and is the first pope ever from the Americas. Approximately 40 percent of the world's Catholics live in Latin America.
The new pontiff was ordained as a Jesuit on in 1969, while studying theology at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel, according to biographical information on the Vatican's website. Cardinal Bergoglio has chosen to be known as Pope Francis I. His selection came one month after Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Catholic Church by announcing his resignation, which became official on Feb. 28.
According to Msgr. Bill, Pope Francis I is known for his humility and ability to identify with the poor.
"He takes a bus to work, cooks his own meals. He lives a simple life. I think it's very promising to the church and to the world," Msgr. Bill said.
The selection of the new pope, the pastor said, is promising. He also said that although some Catholics may have been hoping for a younger leader to be selected, he doesn't believe age is a factor.
"The age doesn't mean anything. It's the promise that's important, Msgr. Bill said.
Springfield Patch Facebook page user Rosemarie Roche was excited about the selection of Pope Francis and is hoping he will be instrumental in bringing youth back to the Catholic Church.
"Good choice! Wish he could be just a bit younger but he looks healthy and happy! Anxious to see where he will take our church. Hoping he will, as did John Paul II, reach out to our young people and bring them back to our church," Roche said in her Facebook post.
Prayers for the new pontiff will be offered during daily mass at St. James the Apostle Church throughout the rest of the week, as well as during weekend services, Msgr. Bill said.