Iowa’s top Catholic official is among those celebrating the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy. Archbishop Jerome Hanus, of the Dubuque Archdiocese, says he was impressed with Bergoglio’s first speech as the new pontiff. “He has a reputation as being kind of down to earth and unpretentious and all of that came through with the words and the way he spoke them,” Hanus said. “He was really identifying with the people. He invited them to first bless him before he blessed them. I thought that was rather significant and moving.”
Bergoglio chose the papal name Francis and is the first Jesuit pontiff and the first from the Americas. Hanus expects there will be a “change in style” with the new Pope. “The fact that he came out with a simple white cassock of the Pope, without any of the frills and trimmings that would’ve been possible, he identifies with ordinary people,” Hanus said.
As cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Hanus said the 76-year-old Bergoglio lived in a simple apartment, used public transportation and often cooked his own meals. Cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church chose Bergoglio as the new Pope on their fifth vote. “That was a pleasant surprise for me, that they were able to unite around a candidate so quickly,” Hanus said. “The fact that they reached a two-thirds majority – that’s pretty rare. Hardly any our political campaigns end up with somebody getting 66-percent of the vote.”
Bishop R. Walker Nickless, of the Sioux City Diocese, noted that Bergoglio has been called a champion of the poor. “I think it’s very significant that he chose the name Francis, who is the patron that everyone knows – Catholic or non-Catholic,” Nickless said. “People love Saint Francis for his simplicity, humility and his love of the poor.”
The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ inaugural Mass will be held on Tuesday.
(Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, contributed to this story)