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A local bishop says he’s praying the recently elected pope has the stamina to meet the challenges facing the Catholic church.
Millions watched as the Roman Catholic Church named cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope. White smoke signaling that a new pope had been chosen came out of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican shortly after 7 p.m. local time in Rome.
National media have reported he will take on the name of Pope Francis I.
The 76-year-old was the runner-up to former pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in 2005 but stepped down because of health reasons.
Bergoglio is the first cardinal to be elected outside of Europe.
Thunder Bay bishop Frederick Colli had hoped for Marc Ouellet from Quebec to be the next leader of the estimated 1.2 billion people who consider themselves to be Catholic. But he said he was still overjoyed that the church has a new pope.
“Anyone elected pope will have challenges,” he said.
“I know pope Benedict saw that and his health was failing so it was necessary for a new man to take over who has some vibrancy. I don’t know Bergoglio but I hope he has the stamina and I’m sure he has the wisdom and holiness to move the church forward.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and pledging my support to him and seeing what direction he gives to the Catholic church over the next few years. He’s got some very important responsibilities and issues to deal with church. He’s going to have to deal with the sexual abuse issue.”
Colli said he’s heard that Bergoglio is very holy, a devoted pastor and very humble.
While interest varied, many local residents had opinions to share about the breaking news.
Peter Gernat, a Roman Catholic, said he hopes the new pope takes the church in a new direction and deals with major issues such as abuse.
Meanwhile Gord, another resident who didn’t want to give his last name when approached by a tbnewswatch.com reporter Wednesday afternoon, said he hoped the new pope stays longer than the last one. But, he added, for the most part didn’t care too much that one was chosen.
“I’m just glad it’s over with,” he said.
Ernie Epp said it was interesting that Bergoglio was from South American.
“For them to turn to someone outside of Europe is significant during a time when the Catholic Church is growing,” he said. “For them to turn to Argentina instead of Brazil for example is an interesting choice.”
He also found it interesting that he picked the name Francis and wondered how Bergoglio handled the situation in Argentina during the many military conflicts the country has faced. Overall, Epp said he looked forward to learning more about the new pope.
“We wait with interest,” he said. “The Roman Catholic church faces many challenges. All churches do. I’m a United churchman and we recognize the challenges with the church. We shall see.”
Phillip Thibodeau was also happy to hear the news and added that he was surprised to hear the cardinals had picked someone already.
“I’m shocked,” he said. “I was watching the news this morning and there was still black smoke. I didn’t really have any close pick on anyone just as long as they have someone who’s true to the people.”
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