New Pope Francis Elected: Belleville Pastor Reacts
Father Ivan Sciberras, the Pastor of St. Peter's Church in Belleville, sees challenges and opportunities for the new Pope.
Writing shortly after the white smoke appeared on Wednesday, signalling that the conclave had chosen Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church, St. Peter's Pastor Ivan Sciberras saw significance in Bergoglio's origin and choice of Papal name.
"He is the first Pope to take the name 'Francis,'" Sciberras noted in a message to his Parish that he shared with Patch. "Could it be that he feels that the Church needs more of a Franciscan spirit in the complicated and violent world we live in? The simple pectoral cross he wore today definitely gives that impression."
Bergoglio is thought of as a Jesuit intellectual and is known for his prediliction for travelling by bus and his a direct approach to poverty. When he was appointed a cardinal, Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate but instead to donate the equivalent value of a plane tickets to the poor.
Sciberras said as Bergoglio is the first Pope to be chosen from outside Europe in many centuries and the first to hail from the Americas, the church could strengthen its faith where it's already growing.
"His election should help the deepening of the Faith in Latin America, where most of the growth in the Church is happening," Sciberras said.
In addition to being the first Pope from the Americas, Sciberras noted that Bergoglio is the first Jesuit priest to be elected pope.
"Who would have imagined that happening, considering that this religious order went through so much persecution from within and outside the Church (and yet produced such great saints over the centuries)" Sciberras asked.
Sciberras believes the church's decision to once again choose a leader of advanced age showed their confidence in the man.
"In choosing a 76-year-old to lead the Church in this new millennium, the College of Cardinals expressed its belief that maturity comes with age, and that in spite of the age of the Roman Pontiff, the Church remains ever young because Christ, the One truly leading the Church, remains “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13,8)," Sciberras said.
Sciberras urged his congregation to pray for the new Pope.
"Let us pray fervently for the Holy Father," he wrote. "The challenges ahead of him are enormous, but like Peter (our beloved Patron Saint), may he hear Christ’s words uttered for the first time two millennia ago: “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell with not overpower Her” (Mt 16:18).