Never before have billions of people been able to watch the chimney at the Sistine Chapel yet never step foot in St Peter's Square. Probably with only a few exceptions, the entire world found out about the new bishop of Rome within moments thanks to the news media and internet. Compared to a thousand years ago (or say a hundred popes ago), it might have taken half a century to find out about the election of a new pope. It's quite possible that Rome may have been through a couple more popes before people in far away lands found out the first one had died!
For me, I definitely took advantage of all the technology I could. A few minutes after 2PM, I was bombarded with constant text messages while watching a live feed on a colleagues iPhone and monitoring all the posts on Facebook and Twitter on another device before making it to a television. I wanted to see and hear the new pope for the first time. Like so many, I had never experienced it before.
It was all worth it, and in fact I was absolutely captivated by Pope Francis. When he came onto the loggia of St Peter's Basilica and quietly stood there (with some shock and awe), I could tell he was a holy man. Wearing only the white cassock, and forgoing the rochet covered by the red mozzetta normally worn by his predecessors, his simplicity was obvious (especially when the prelates and attendants around him were all decked out in their ecclesiastical best). He didn't even wear his stole until he blessed the assembly.
He seems to be very personable and a man of humility, as evidenced by his first words to the Church. Here is the text from the Vatican News website:
Brothers and sisters good evening.
You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.
First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him.
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favor. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon... We will see one another soon.
Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.
Good night and sleep well!
I knew very little about Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio before his election to the papacy today, but I'm delighted in what I have heard so far. He was a late vocation with a graduate degree in chemistry before entering formation. He is the first member of the Society of Jesus to be elected Pontiff. As a part-product of Jesuit higher education, I know the Society gets a bad rap sometimes (and many times it's well deserved), however I've come to know so many of them who are faithful servants, often committed to the poor and other important social justice issues as Cardinal Bergoglio was. I also heard that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he resided in an apartment and often took public transportation to the office- not the perceived norm of an archbishop and member of the College of Cardinals.
I also have to say, I love the new name, and it seems to match up with the first impressions of the new Holy Father. I'm really surprised that no previous pope had ever taken the name since so many have a devotion to St Francis. Initially, I wasn't sure if he took the name in honor of St Francis of Assisi or for St Francis Xavier (one of the founders of the Jesuits, and also my son's patron). All credible sources say it is for St Francis of Assisi which is consistent with his episcopal motto "Lowly yet chosen."
I'm looking forward to getting to know this new pope. Thanks to all the modern technology available to us, we now can.
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Funny side note, I'm glad that Vatican has clarified that the Holy Father will be known as "Pope Francis" not "Pope Francis I." It's a little weird to be called "the first" without having "a second." It would be like naming a child "John Smith, Sr" without knowing if there will ever be a John Smith, Jr.