You don’t have to be a catholic to realise the significance of white smoke bellowing from (atop) the Sistine Chapel. The Roman Catholic community has been blessed with a new pope (266th pope), Pope Francis. The bells of the basilica pealed across St. Peters square and the devout crowd jubilantly chanted Viva il Papa (Long live the Pope in Italian).
ARGENTINIAN Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first of many; He is the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, the first to hail from Latin America, the first non-European pontiff in 1000 years and the first Pope Francis, though technically he can’t be called the first until there is a second pope Francis.
Pope Francis appeared on the balcony to be greeted by a deafening roar of joy by the crowd that had been chanting Viva il Papa for over an hour after the smoke was sighted.
“You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome,” he said before thanking the former pope Benedict, blessing the city and all the men and women of goodwill.
Thousands of miles away, I could not help myself beam with pride when the following facts were made to light, as I sipped my morning coffee. Pope Francis is known for his humility, his belief in social justice and for living a simple lifestyle. As Cardinal of the Catholic Church in Argentina, he passed on the right to have a chauffeured limousine and instead used public transport. Instead of a bishop’s palace, he lived in a small apartment and reportedly cooked his own meals.
These are indeed exciting times for a catholic, for the first time we have a former pope (pope Benedict) to guide us and a new pope (pope Francis) to lead us, a double blessing, Viva il Papa indeed!