Habemus Papam, We have a Pope!
Wednesday afternoon at around 2 PM, my nurse alerted me to the smoke emitting from the Sistine Chapel. When I turned my head to the TV screen I noticed that the smoke was gray– white smoke! “White smoke!” My heart started racing. Day 2 of the Conclave and we already had a Pope! Bells started ringing as we anxiously awaited the announcement, “Habemus Papam!” About an hour after the white smoke, the curtains at the Apostolic Palace shuffled and out came the Cardinal who spoke the Latin words we longed to hear. And then, he announced the name: Georgium Marium. Wait, who? “There has to be some kind of mistake,” I blurted out. None of the Cardinals I knew had that name! Whoever it was, he had chosen the brand new Papal name, Francis. I was so surprised to see a Pope I had never seen before in my life! For what seemed to be 3 long minutes, the new Pope stood completely motionless. I think he was getting over the shock of being elected, and taking in the crowd. My initial, somewhat negative, reaction faded when Pope Francis, bowing his head, asked the crowd to pray for him before he gave his blessing.
Later, I learned that Pope Francis, a Jesuit, had been Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina and that he lived very simply. He chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, for his simplicity and love for the poor. What’s most striking about Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is his sincere humility. In his 1st day, Pope Francis paid honor to Our Lady and paid his hotel bill! I’m sure that this Holy Father will continue to bless us with surprises. It is a complete surprise that he was chosen to be Pope– proof of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the matter. The Cardinals who were the likeliest candidates were not chosen. Evidently, the saying is true, “he who enters the conclave as a Pope, comes out as a Cardinal.
Tomorrow is Pope Francis’ Inaugural Mass. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians will be in attendance… it will be the 1st time that’s ever happened. It seems that Pope Francis was known for his outreach towards the Orthodox in Argentina. There are signs of good things to come with the new Pope, as there were with Pope Benedict.