This is another situation where the Holy Spirit throws us a curveball, in the same vein as the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978. Francis is the first non-European pope since Pope Saint Gregory III in 731, who was born in Syria. He is the first Argentinean and the first Jesuit pope.
Pope Francis greeted the crowd at Saint Peter’s with some remarks:
“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am.
“I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to … the bishops, thank you very much.
“First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus pope, Benedict XVI. Let us pray all of us together … so that he’s blessed by the lord and guarded.”
After these statements, he paused and said “before the Bishop of Rome blesses you, I ask that in silence you pray to God for me.” This moment was truly beautiful… to watch all of Saint Peter’s Square fall silent and the new pope to bow his head humbly in prayer. I prayed too, and I must admit that I got a little misty-eyed at the poignant moment. I can’t imagine what the road from the Sistine Chapel to the Room of Tears must be like, the enormity of the moment and then to walk out on the balcony and see the throng of people elated to greet you… it must be tremendous. In that moment, to in turn ask those people to pray to God on your behalf… what a wonderful first statement by Pope Francis.
I am encouraged by the little information that I have read so far about Pope Francis… that he is a follower of the most conservative Church teachings and was a strong advocate of pro-life, pro-marriage causes within Argentina. He was a vocal advocate against secular movements in his country and is considered to be a straight shooter.
It seems that the Holy Spirit has answered our prayers for the right sort of man to lead the Church! Viva il Papa!