Locals respond to new pontiff

Following two days of voting, a puff of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel signaled a new pope had been chosen. Television stations showed those gathering in St. Peter’s Square chanting “Habemus papam,” meaning “we have a pope.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was selected following two days of voting split among five ballots.

He is the 266th pontiff and is the first South American to be elected pope, as well as the first Jesuit and the first pope to choose the name “Francis.”

Locally, members of St. Brendan Catholic Church celebrated with a rosary and mass, while offering their prayers to the newly elected pontiff.

St. Brendan Pastoral Associate Rev. Raymond Godwin said he is very happy about the new pope.

“I think they have selected a good man,” Godwin said. “About 40 percent of the world’s Catholics are Latin, so this was a good pick. I love the fact that he picked the name Francis and feel he will be a breath of fresh air for the church. He is a symbol of humility.”

Elkins resident Sue Severino said she likes the newly elected pope, and Judy Sinkule said she thinks he will be good for the church.

Mary Snelson said she listened to the pope’s first comments and thought they were “awesome.”

“He asked for a moment of silence so the audience could pray for him,” Snelson said. “It was very beautiful. The announcer said he had never heard it so quiet there as when Pope Francis asked for a moment of silence.”

The Very Rev. Donald X. Higgs, pastor of St. Brendan Catholic Church, said the keys have been handed to Pope Francis.

“He will shepherd the church,” Higgs said. “Before he gave a blessing, he asked those gathered to give him a blessing. This is what it is to be a servant. Pope Francis is the servant of the servants of God.”

Sister Mary Ella Morrison said it was wonderful to hear that the new pope is someone from Latin America.

“He seems to exude a great love for the common people,” Morrison said. “They said he used public transportation instead of driving. He has such a beautiful smile.”

Betty Binns said she was really excited about the election of Pope Francis.

“I was watching television when the white smoke went up,” Binns said. “It is good to see someone elected outside of the European countries.”

Judy Ware said the newly elected pontiff seems to be very humble.

“He seems humble and devout and I think he will be very interested about the faithful throughout the world,” Ware said. “His asking for prayers for him was very humbling.”

“I think he will be a good pope,” said Chick Rao. “He seems very people-oriented, which was obvious from the start when he asked the people to bless him.”

“It is with joy and happiness we welcome our new holy Father,” said Higgs. “I was wonderfully impressed with his request to ask people to bless him before he blessed us. What a wonderful example of a humble servant.”