The election of the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is a source of great joy for us as Catholics. It speaks of many qualities of the life of the Church.
The first is our belief that in prayer, reflection, and conversation, the Cardinal Electors were guided by the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised the Church would be.
More tangible is the fact that Pope Francis’ election highlights the catholicity or universal nature of the Church. He is the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere. He comes from a continent home to forty percent of the world’s Catholics. I rejoice with my fellow Catholics of Latin America over his election.
While we celebrate the fact that the election of the Holy Father represents a new chapter in the history of the Church, it is a chapter that will unfold as a part of many earlier chapters. For the past couple of centuries, the Church has been shepherded by many men of outstanding gifts and abilities. Several of them have been judged by the Church to have been saints. Some others will undoubtedly be declared to be such. Pope Francis offers the promise of continuing in that line. And so, even as we celebrate the beginning of this new chapter in the Church’s history, and look forward to what God’s grace will accomplish through him, we are grateful for the witness given by those who have gone before him.
The Church is in good hands. Let us offer our prayers that God will grant him every grace he needs to fulfill his office as the Vicar of Christ, the chief shepherd and universal pastor of our Church.
Most Reverend David R. Choby
Bishop of Nashville