Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was elected the 266th pope on Wednesday. The news came as somewhat of a surprise, as he is the first Jesuit pope and first elected from the southern American hemisphere, where more than 40 percent of the world’s Catholics live.
Bergoglio, who has chosen the name Pope Francis, is expected to be a humble and strong leader of the Catholic world, grounded by his love for all. He is expected to be dedicated to education and devoted to the poor.
The Rev. Charles A. Hough III of Cleburne’s St. John Vianney Catholic Church said he expects the new pope to be humble, strong in his beliefs and caring of others.
“I think it’s significant that he has taken the name Pope Francis for Saint Francis of Assisi, who was one of the most beloved saints ever,” Hough said. “He was a great man of humility and strength. And that is what we are looking at.”
Bergoglio, the son of an Italian immigrant, does not come from an aristocratic background. He is known to ride the bus with locals, pray with the poor and spend time visiting with commoners. In other words, Hough said, he is “going to be a very approachable pope.”
The Rev. Mel Bessellieu of St. Ann Catholic Church in Burleson said everyone he’s talked to is “very excited and very happy.”
“I think the College of Cardinals did a fantastic job in choosing Francis I to be our next pope,” he said. “To choose a Latin American pope is a good move on their part.”
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth Monsignor Stephen Berg said in a press release that the diocese looks forward to Francis leading “all Catholics and people of good will, in celebration of God’s greatest gift to mankind, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ his son, during the Easter observances to come.”