Catholics celebrate election of new pope
Catholics in Western Pennsylvania celebrated the election of Pope Francis I on Wednesday, the first pope from the Americas.
Argentine Jorge Bergoglio chose the papal name Francis, becoming first pontiff from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
“You can't deny the importance that he's from the Americas,” said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik at a news conference at St. Paul's Seminary in Crafton. “But the sort of person he is is more important.”
Zubik described the new pontiff as “very pastoral” and a man of simple tastes who lives in a small apartment and is said to take public transportation to work.
A stunned-looking Bergoglio shyly waved to the crowd of tens of thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter's Square after his election. He marveled that the cardinals had to look to “the end of the earth” to find a bishop of Rome.
Anthony Falcon opened his Strip District restaurant Gaucho Parrilla Argentina five weeks ago. Though he isn't Catholic, he was excited for Argentina – the country where his father is from and where his siblings were born.
“It's definitely an honor for Argentina. It's great,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Falcon, 39.
Francis is the first South American to lead the church and the first non-European in more than 1,000 years.
“It's great for the world,” Falcon said. “I wish him the best of luck. He's got a lot on his plate.”
”I'm so excited,” said Donna Seuilli, 70, of Oakland, as she waited for the pope's identity to be announced at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oakland. “Now we have a new Holy Father to guide us.”
The bells at St. Mary of Mercy, Downtown, rang for several minutes to mark the announcement of Pope Francis.
Georgiann Zoog, 76, of Downtown stopped in St. Mary of Mercy, Downtown, on Wednesday afternoon to pray for her sick sister. There she learned of the new pope's election.
She was glad to learn he is from Argentina.
“It's good to get different views,” Zoog said. “I'm not that religious. But I feel like crying now that they've elected a pope, and I hear the bells.”
Francis was elected after two days of balloting and replaces Pope Benedict XVI, who retired.
“I'm glad it didn't take long ... They must have had an idea about who they were looking for,” said Ed Monaghan, 68, of Monessen. “I hope we get a more progressive pope who can take the church in a different direction.”
Three cardinals with Pittsburgh connections were considered long shots for the papacy,
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, who attended St. Fidelis Seminary in Butler and is now archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who grew up on Mt. Washington and was bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years before becoming archbishop of Washington; and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who grew up in Castle Shannon and now serves as cardinal of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese.
In a statement, Zubik said that, “Our new Holy Father brings with him the experience of a dedicated pastor who has served the Church so well in his many years of ordained ministry. That experience – and the rock-steady faith that has guided him – will be his comfort and strength in the challenging days ahead.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.