Pat Wallace, of Rockville, said she had other things to do but spent all of Wednesday afternoon glued to the television set. She was waiting for the announcement naming the new pope, the man who would take over the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
“It’s such an important position. It affects so many Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world. I think we are ready for someone who is a little different, someone who is attuned to people in the world not just the silk-and-satin world [popes] live in,” Wallace said.
When she heard that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a 76-year-old Jesuit priest, would now be Pope Francis, she said she was glad.
“I’m delighted that it is someone from Latin America because it’s a different culture, and there are a lot of Latin American Catholics. It’s a different perspective,” she said. “I don’t know anything about him but just listening to the description on TV, he is very humble and also a Jesuit, [priests] who are usually very bright and very tuned in to the poor.”
Father Roger A. Soley of the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Upper Marlboro said he was “joyful.” He praised the cardinals for “acknowledging Christ’s presence” in the Americas. He also noted that the new pope has the experience of suffering through a land of dictatorship and “holding the rudders steady” for his parish.
“He’s a genteel and a prayerful man,” he said.
In an official announcement after the papal election, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, who is in Rome, said, “Pope Francis is endowed with so many gifts that enhance his mission now as the Chief Shepherd of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. We thank God for the many intellectual talents and spiritual qualities, pastoral experience and effective ministry of the new Pope. ... In Pope Francis, we recognize the successor to Peter and the visible sign of the unity of the Church spread throughout the whole world. He is the touchstone for the mission, message and tradition of the Church. ... May God bring to fruitful completion what he has so wonderfully begun in the selection today of Pope Francis.”
Wallace agrees that something wonderful began for the Catholic Church today. She could tell that watching the new Pope in television.
“When he came out he had the sweetest smile,” she said. “I think its going to be wonderful. I think everybody is ready for a change.”
Staff Writer Lindsey Robbins contributed to this story.