Hoosiers are celebrating the election of a new pontiff.
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was named the new leader of the Catholic Church Wednesday. Bergoglio served a major archdiocese in Latin America.
“As Catholics, it means we have a victor, a shepherd, you know, someone to lead us,” Melanie Barron of Indianapolis said.
There are roughly 240,000 Catholics in Central and Southern Indiana.
Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop Joseph Tobin held a news conference and told reporters, “We share in everyone’s joy.” He said Wednesday’s election was unique because it has been 1,200 years since a non-European was named pontiff. Also, Bergoglio is a member of the Society of Jesus and he is from Latin America.
“My hope is that Pope Francis will bring a certain universality to the church (and to) remind us that it is a big tent,” Tobin said.
Tobin met Pope Francis several times many years ago. He said they spent four weeks at the Senate of Bishops.
“I found him to be lived up to his reputation as far as being a man of great simplicity,” Tobin said.
Tobin described Pope Francis as a person who is not afraid to say things how he sees them. He believes Pope Francis chose his name because of a mystical experience Francis had as a young monk. Tobin said Francis felt the presence of Christ, which told him to ‘rebuild my church.’
Many people said they were surprised Pope Francis was elected. Some people expected a younger pontiff would be selected.
“I think everyone was expecting a younger Pope because the last one was older, but as long as he is a good leader and a holy man, it doesn’t matter to us how old he is,” Barron said.
Wednesday evening, there was a mass at Holy Rosary Parish off Stevens Street. Father Michael Magiera and members prayed for Pope Francis.
“I wouldn’t want to make any kind of predictions or have any kind of fears. Let’s trust that God has chosen the man that was supposed to be ours,” Stephen Scull said.
While many people said they do not know Pope Francis, they are hopeful about the future.
“Rome never calls me and asks me for its advice so I’m sure that this Holy Father is just going to be someone marvelous and we have to trust that he is the choice of the Holy Spirit,” Father Magiera said.
There will be a mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral on Thursday to celebrate and pray for the new pontiff. The mass will be at noon along Meridian Street.
Archbishop Tobin said he will more than likely meet with Pope Francis at the end of June.