Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ called from among his disciples a Galilean fisherman by the name of Simon to be one of the twelve apostles, and in renaming him Peter, Christ said: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). After the death and resurrection of Jesus, this fisherman, now an apostle of Jesus Christ, came to Rome as our first Holy Father, and it is that calling establishing the Petrine ministry that we celebrate today. As the world hears the now-famous words Habemus Papam and views the white smoke, it is with joy that we in the Archdiocese of Louisville welcome this wonderful news. May Jesus Christ be praised!
More than one billion Catholics from every continent of the world, as well as all people of good will, can rejoice in this historic occasion. Continuing the Petrine ministry, our Holy Father will foster the unity found in the truth and charity of Jesus Christ, and it is in this unity that we as a family rejoice.
Our new Holy Father, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., is the first pope from outside of Europe in centuries and the first Jesuit pope. He is a retired cardinal from Argentina, and he has taken the name Pope Francis. As gifted as Pope Francis is, it is noteworthy that the first two themes he demonstrated to the world were his deep desire for prayer, as he led us in prayer, and his decision to choose the name of St. Francis, the saint universally known to the world for his simplicity.
I call upon Catholics of the Archdiocese and all people of good will to join us in praying for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Please join me in celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving at noon tomorrow at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
March 13, 2013