The spiritual leader of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, the Rev. Msgr. William J. Scheyd, said a “good man has been elected” pope of the Roman Catholic Church in Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
The world discovered Wednesday that the College of Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome had chosen a new pope when white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, the traditional signal that the selection has been made.
“He seems to be a very spiritual man, a very humble man and an intellectual man, and I think all those qualities will the serve the church well in the future,” Scheyd said.
Bergoglio, 76, who has taken the name Francis I, is a Jesuit cardinal and son of an Italian railway worker who becomes the first Jesuit and first Latin American pontiff.
Scheyd said he has learned much about the new pope with the rest of the world over the last 24 hours.
The archbishop of Buenos Aires is a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus and has a practical approach to poverty: When he was appointed a cardinal, Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor, according to The Guardian. He was a fierce opponent of the decision in Argentina to legalize gay marriage in 2010, arguing children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother. He was created a cardinal by John Paul II on Feb. 21, 2001. The Guardian says that the new pope:
- believes in contraception to prevent the spread of disease
- is open to dialogue with other faiths
- is not facing questions over any abuse scandals
- is not facing questions over the handling of the Vatileaks scandal
- would make reforming the curia a priority.
Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., said in a prepared statement, “We join our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe in saluting Pope Francis I. At this historic moment for the Church, we offer prayers for strength, wisdom, and courage for our new Pope as he assumes this great and sacred responsibility.
Von Arx also said, "In these complex and challenging times, there is an opportunity for renewal and reflection. The election of a pope from Latin America is an historic precedent and an expression of optimism and courage on the part of the conclave. As Pope Francis I is a member of the Society of Jesus, this is a time for great humility and gratitude for our Society. With God’s guidance, may he lead the Church to greater unity and faithfulness to her Lord and become an inspirational leader, not only for his flock, but indeed, for the world.”
Scheyd said the process for selecting the pope worked “very effectively” as it always has.
“We believe that it is divinely inspired who God chooses from his church to lead, and as he [Bergoglio] has said, they went to the ends of the earth to find him,” Scheyd said.