Thu March 14, 2013
WNY Catholics applaud choice of new Pope
Western New York Catholics were keeping close watch on Wednesday's papal election. Two local priests say the selection of Pope Francis is significant for the Church.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, now Pope Francis, is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas. The former archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina.
Rev. Paul Bossi, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, says the announcement was emotional for him.
"It brought tears to my eyes. I was really overjoyed by the announcement and the fact that he's from the third world," Rev. Bossi said.
Msgr. Paul Burkard, the pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, says he was a bit surprised by the selection.
"I had thought with such a short conclave that they might have gone with one of the more obvious frontrunners, if there were frontrunners, who were more well-known. I think they've picked a very fine man," said Msgr. Paul Burkard.
Both priests say they are delighted the Pope selected the name Francis, which has never before been chosen as a papal moniker.
"I'm thinking that he has in mind Francis of Assisi, who was the great preacher to the poor. [Pope Francis] comes from a country where he has a lot of poor people to care for, himself. I think he has something in mind about evangelizing the poor and watching out for the people who are on the streets," Msgr. Burkard said.
The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says his initial reaction was of surprised at the selection of Pope Francis. But Bishop Richard Malone told reporters Wednesday night he finds it a "very refreshing" to have the first Latin American Pope.
"I am just thrilled. I think it is a wonderful thing. South America, of course, has the most Roman Catholics of any part of the world," said Malone.
Malone says he knows very little about the new leader -- but is familiar with Pope's Francis work for the poor and his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"I think it is going to be a very interesting ride to see how Pope Francis will lead the church," said Malone.
Malone held a teleconference with local media from Baltimore where he is attending a two-day conference with U.S. Bishops on Catholic Relief Services.
Bishop Malone returns to Buffalo Thursday evening.