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Local priests welcome Pope Francis I: Sign of hope for Catholic Church
The election of Pope Francis I (Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is a welcome “sign of hope” for Catholics in the South American region. So said Msgr Christian Pereira yesterday, after Pope Francis I became the first pope to come from outside Europe in over 1,000 years, and the first pope to be elected from Latin America.
“It is a great joy. This is a surprise, but a joy, knowing that it is someone from not only the western hemisphere but South America. It is a great sign of hope for the Church that is truly crossing the Atlantic, as it were, out of Europe,” Pereira said in a telephone interview. Jorge Vinuela, chargé d’affaires at the Argentine Embassy in T&T, also expressed excitement over Pope Francis’s election.
“We are very happy, very happy. God bless the Pope,” Vinuela said. He said as an Argentine he was pleased, adding that it was not surprising an Argentine was elected. “South America has a large Catholic (following) and so the election shows that the Church has looked to that part of world for a new way to understand the problems that are occurring in the world,” he said.
Yesterday, Pope Francis I, 76, replaced Benedict XVI, who resigned last month at 85. Benedict XVI said he was not strong enough to lead the Church. Since Tuesday afternoon the 115 cardinals had been in isolation in conclave in Rome and had held four inconclusive votes.
However, yesterday evening white smoke emerged from the conclave signalling that a pope had been elected, and shortly after 3.15 local time Pope Francis I emerged onto the balcony at St Peter’s Square. He was greeted with loud cheers as he waved to the crowd gathered below. Pereira said Pope Francis I’s election would mean a lot to South Americans, since many of them continued to be part of the Church. He said he has great hope for Pope Francis I’s leadership.
“I am sure his leadership will bring great unity and hope for all,” he said Pereira admitted that he did not anticipate that the pope would have been selected so close to T&T. He said the fact that somebody from this hemisphere was elected would unite the Church and showed the Church was universal. “As part of the Caribbean and &T we are proud to be part of that legacy, that great heritage,” he said.
Yesterday, students from San Fernando Boys’ RC and St Gabriel’s Girls’ RC Primary School gathered at the Pro-Cathedral, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Harris Promenade, San Fernando, where they sang the hymn Hail to Christ Victor and read the Te Deum-praise to God after Pope Francis I’s election. The San Fernando church is being used as a pro-cathedral because the RC Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port-of-Spain is closed for renovations.
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