Somehow, I knew the white smoke would come at the end of the second day. Maybe because it took four votes last time, and I just figured it would take about the same this time (it took five). In any case, I saw the white smoke bellow out, and after a few seconds of, “Is that white smoke or black? It looks kinda gray. No, it’s definitely lighter than before. I think it’s white,” I knew there was a new pope. I loved watching the excitement of the crowd as the white smoke appeared, and the bells rang, and people rushed to St. Peter's to get the first glimpse of the new pope.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has become Pope Francis. Of course, I know nothing about him, but all first reports seem to indicate that he is a very humble man. He’s 76-years-old and has spent most of his career in the diocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was the son of Italian immigrants. He has a degree in chemistry but after becoming a Jesuit, he taught literature, philosophy, and theology. He is known for his simple living; he cooked his own meals and took the public bus to work.
Already, his papacy is full of firsts:
-First to take the name Francis.
-First non-European in more than 1,200 years .
-First South American.
-First from the New World or the Southern hemisphere.
As he stepped out onto the balcony, he looked nervous. I can’t blame him. Beyond the tens of thousands packed in St. Peter’s Square, the entire world was watching. My stomach tightened for him. He appeared shy, overwhelmed, but seemed to gain confidence as he spoke. He even joked that the conclave had to go “to the end of the earth” to find a pope.
I’m really glad that this pope is from a region of the world where the faith is thriving, and that he represents such a large portion of the Church. I’m optimistic that he will provide a humble, simple leadership to the Church, a fresh face that is demographically different but theologically consistent. Salve, Papa Franciscus!