What can I say that has not been said already in words and prayers from around the world - We have a Pope!
In case you have been hiding under a rock, the cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76 years of age but in good health and vitality, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, to be the 265th successor of Saint Peter. He has chosen the name Pope Francis I, reportedly in honor of the great Saint Francis of Assisi but also possibly in honor of Saint Francis Xavier of the Jesuit Order, of which he is a member.
This election has all kinds of "firsts" about it: first non European Pope in over 1,000 years, first Pope from the Western Hemisphere, the first Pope from the Jesuit Order, and the first Pope named Francis among other things.
We will hear much about him over the next days, but I was very impressed with a number of things: his simplicity (even in dress he did not wear all of the trappings, but was in simple white cassock), his praying for and asking prayers for Benedict XVI as he began, his speaking off the cuff to the people gathered, especially his Roman flock, his humility in asking for prayers from the people before he shared his blessing with his people, even bowing his head for those prayers, and his pledge to come before Mary in the morning in prayers of gratitude and intercession. Cardinal Egan, the retired Archbishop of New York, spoke of his knowing the man, and he said of him that "he calmly stands for what's right and just" and that he has "great compassion for the poor".
Before posting this I was watching CNN, who reported that the Installation Mass is set for March 19th, the feast of Saint Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church. How truly appropriate.
He reminded me a little of another simple and delightful choice that stood on that loggia in 1978, a man in a simple white cassock who also surprised us with his name, a man that we did not get a chance to know in his brief month as Holy Father - Pope John Paul I.
Pray for Pope Francis I and the Church that he shepherds. More later.