Habemus Papam! We Have a Pope!
The faithful of Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Cold Spring have jubilantly marked the announcement and then the Tuesday installation of a new Roman Pontiff, Francis I, elected spiritual leader of the universal Catholic Church. He had been Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He is the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit Pope, and has gained widespread attention for his efforts so far to approach the papacy with humility and concern for the poor, needy and oppressed.
Anticipation began last week, as friends gathered on Wednesday afternoon in Nelsonville to watch the proceedings from Rome on TV and to wait for the smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel that would indicate the outcome of the day’s voting.
“Isn’t it remarkable that the whole world is focusing on an ordinary copper smokestack awaiting the ancient sign of white smoke for the election of a new pope or black smoke for no decision?” Andrea Corless remarked. “In this age of technology, this brings us back to the simplicity and tradition of a time gone by.”
Meanwhile, at Our Lady of Loretto Church, Fr. Brian T. McSweeney pealed the church bells for 20 minutes and ordered that a white and yellow bunting be hung over the front doors of the church to celebrate the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Francis I. About 100 children arrived for their Religious Education classes at 3:30 p.m. and gathered in the church. Fr. McSweeney led the children in a prayer of thanksgiving for Francis I and all convened on the front steps of the church for a happy group photo.
Afterwards, Fr. McSweeney had this to say about the events of the day, “It was exciting to see the election of Francis I to be the successor to St. Peter to the glorious acclaim of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square,” he said. “This is historic that we have the first pope from the New World in our 2,000-year history. It is certainly a time of grace and a time for celebration.”
Over in Garrison, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement at Graymoor also had cause for rejoicing since Cardinal Bergoglio had chosen the name of their spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi. “It’s fantastic!” exclaimed Fr. Bob Warren, S.A. in an interview on Sunday morning. “It is just wonderful that the first Jesuit Pope took the name of St. Francis, the little man from Assisi who loved the poor. Let us remember the words of Our Lord to him as he prayed in the Church of San Damiano, ‘Francis, rebuild my Church!’”