By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Picayune St. Charles Catholic Church’s Father Mike Snyder said Catholics here are rejoicing with the world’s 1.2 billion other Church members over the selection of a new pope, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the first pope elected from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years.
“We have a new pope, and on this great day, we are rejoicing,” said Father Snyder.
He added, “We also rejoice that Pope Francis I has offered his services to the Church, as he said, to help rebuild the Church, and to be successful as the successor of Peter.”
Bergoglio, who chose the name Francis I, is 76 years old and considers himself a humble servant of Christ, those who know him say, and is noted for his regimen of simple living. He took the bus in performing his busy duties in his Argentine homeland.
He is the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, an office that stretches back to Jesus’ disciple Peter, the first pope. Peter was said to have been crucified in Rome.
Pope Francis was elected on the fifth ballot by the Church’s cardinals, considered a quick process. It took four ballots to elect his predecessor Pope Benedict, who retired, forcing the Church to select another Pope.
“So,” said Father Snyder, “our prayers are with him, and we rejoice that God has given us a new pope.”
The Picayune St. Charles Catholic Church is located at 1000 Goodyear Blvd.
In Rome, an estimated 50,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square to greet the new pontiff, who waved to the crowd after stepping out on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Wednesday.
In selecting the new pope, the cardinals and church officials were looking for a seasoned, popular pastor who would draw followers to the faith, say experts who follow developments in the Catholic Church.
The new pope is the first Jesuit to be selected as pontiff.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis asked for prayers for himself and for Pope-emeritus Benedict.
“Brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome,” he said.
Although the new pope is humble and soft-spoken, those who know him say, he can speak stern words to fellow cardinals and the church.
He stunned members and officials with a speech last year, accusing fellow church officials of hypocrisy for forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.
The winner of the conclave’s vote to be named pope had to receive 77 of 115 votes, or two thirds of the votes.
Benedict was elected on the fourth ballot, Bergoglio the fifth.
Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign.
In 2005, when Benedict was elected, Bergoglio came in second.
When white smoke poured out of the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel a few minutes past 7 p.m. Italian time on Wednesday, thousands in St. Peter’s Square began jumping up and down, shouting, “Habemus Papam!” or “We have a Pope!”