‘Viva il Papa’

As the world watched, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was named pope and local church leaders say they are pleased with the selection.

“As he spoke on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica he spoke with great humility and great humanity. That sets the tone for him,” said Monsignor Kevin McCoy, of Holy Trinity Parish and St. Edmond Catholic Schools.

McCoy said Pope Francis will well represent the growing number of Latin American Catholics.

“I think he was a marvelous selection,” said McCoy, adding that Argentina is overwhelmingly Catholic.

The Rev. Nils Hernandez, of the Holy Family Cluster of Belmond, Clarion and Eagle Grove, said he was also pleased. Hernandez, who was born in Nicaragua, found it “quite significant” that the chosen pope is from the Americas.

“I am from Latin America, and it is very humbling for me to know that the Holy Spirit chose a man who was born in the Americas, and especially from Argentina, to be the one to lead the Holy Catholic Church,” said Hernandez.

“Just having someone from Latin America is exciting for everyone,” said the Rev. Ed Girres, of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Algona. “It’s big for the church because Latin Americans make up a large population of the Catholic Church. Locally, I know our Hispanic people will feel proud that there is someone of Hispanic background.”

The Rev. Brian Danner, of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Manson, St. Francis in Rockwell City, and St. Mary’s of Pomeroy, said he believes the new pope will be a “pope for the people.”

“He’s very much a people’s pope,” said Danner. “He is one who is with the people of the world and not one who stands above them.”

Danner said Bergoglio’s selection of the name Francis exemplifies that he is a humble man.

“In a world where materialism can take over in our lives, I hope a dose of his humility will bring us to a new level,” said Danner. “I think Francis’ prayer life will have an effect on First World countries and will promote more international cooperation.”

McCoy agreed.

“The very fact that he chose the name Francis speaks well of the man,” he said. “St. Francis of Assisi was a very humble man with concern for the poor.”

“He is a very humble man,” said the Rev. Shane Deman, St. Edmond Catholic Schools chaplain. “He has been very good to the poor and I am sure that will show in his papacy. He has a warm compassion that came through in his words and I’m sure promoting the compassion of Christ will be a priority and he will do it with a sense of sincerity.”

“He lives simply,” said Girres. “He is very attentive to the poor and human rights. That is good for the church.”

The papal selection was important to all Christian denominations, said the Rev. Richard Graves of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“If you have any sense of the scope and the history of the church over the last two millennia, the Bishop of Rome is just a central figure,” said Graves. “I think a certain respect needs to be accorded to whoever occupies the seat of Peter.”

Pope Francis’ selection was also a surprise since he’s a Jesuit, Graves said.

“While the Jesuits have sworn a special oath to the pope, they’ve been in recent times very liberal, and they’ve sometimes caused popes to blanch a little bit in their approaches to doctrine,” he said.

His hope for the Catholic Church under Francis’ leadership is the same as his hope for all Christians, he said: That they’d be open to the Holy Spirit and faithful to the gospel.

Deman said the day will be one of significance in Catholic history.

“We are all excited and will be keeping him in our prayers. Today has been a very exciting day for the history of the church,” he said.