County faithful hope pontiff is up to the task
BY JON RUTTER, and LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writers
Lancaster County Catholics greeted the elevation of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to become the first pope from South America in 20 centuries of Roman Catholic Church history with excitement and hope Wednesday.
His fellow cardinals picked the new pontiff, who took the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, to lead the church during a conclave at the Vatican.
Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of the Harrisburg diocese said in a statement that the new pope's selection was "truly a work of the Holy Spirit."
"The cardinals have responded to divine inspiration and the prayers that have been offered by believers throughout the world," McFadden said. "I am confident that this man will be given every gift he needs to fulfill this essential role in the Catholic Church."
He said the choice of the name Francis "clearly shows that his heart lies with the poor and the marginalized."
In Lancaster city, the Rev. Leo Goodman, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church, said he was "delighted" by the choice.
"An Argentinian archbishop elected and taking the name Francis, which is such a beloved name in the Catholic tradition," he said. "I think it's wonderful."
Goodman believes it bodes well that the new pope took his name from Francis of Assisi because the saint "walked away from riches and humbly left his whole life behind to follow our Lord."
Goodman, who met Pope John Paul II in 1991, said that, while the pope is "just a man," God "uses him as an instrument."
"The whole church is praying for him," Goodman said.
Joe Anders of East Hempfield Township said he was switching on his television to check the stock market when he "saw some white smoke, which was exciting."
"The core of my hope is that he's a person who represents some progressive thought and corrects some things that have been left undone in the church," Anders said.
Anders, who is active in the campus ministry at Millersville University, likes the 76-year-old pope's choice of names, if not his age.
"Francis has a great history in the church and he would be a very good model," Anders said. "I like the fact that he has a modest apartment, from what I hear, and takes the bus to his office. He apparently has a heart for the poor, which is good to hear. I would have liked to have seen him a bit younger.
"It will be interesting to see how it plays out. He has my good wishes and the prayers that I can offer up for success in working with a church that needs some work."
Bernice Stadler of Manheim Township, a member of St. John Neumann Church, hopes the new pope avoids becoming too political.
"If someone is legal and rigid and wants to go back to orthodoxy, it's not going to work," she said.
The new pontiff must be both a manager and a spiritual leader, she believes.
"I think he has to juggle that," she said.
Sharon Icles, who works as secretary at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Lancaster city, said the choice came quicker than she expected.
"We just got the word," Ickes said. "We're all just very excited."
Dan Gallagher, a member of St. Anne's Catholic Church in the city, said he was struck by the fact that the new pope is the first Jesuit to be named to that post.
"Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that Jesuits take a vow of poverty, which is much different than diocesan priests, who are usually the ones who end up becoming bishops," he said. "That's extraordinary."
Andrea Derr, secretary/bookkeeper at St. Philip the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Millersville, called the pick "a surprise."
She believes the new pope to be "humble."
"He cares a lot about the poor," she said. "Pomp and circumstance will maybe play less of a role in this papacy."
Derr said when the Rev. Mark E. Weiss saw the white smoke that signaled a decision had been made, "He came running through the door saying, 'We got a pope, we got a pope!' "
"It's history in the making," Derr said.