Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
, Archbishop of Oklahoma City
“Ever since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI announced his plans to resign, the more than 115,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City have been praying for the cardinal electors and for whomever they would choose as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church,” Archbishop Coakley said.
“Believing and trusting that the Holy Spirit would guide the conclave, we anticipated this day with great hope and excitement. We are overjoyed and grateful to know the name of the man for whom we have been so ardently praying – Pope Francis I, formerly Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Cardinals have delivered a wonderful surprise to the world by choosing a pope from Latin America, a part of the world where the Catholic Church is strong and committed to the New Evangelization.
“In the days leading up to the election, there was understandably much conjecture about who the next pope might be. Coming as it did from all quarters of the globe, the speculation was a powerful reminder that the Church – which was commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel to all nations – is, indeed, universal, spanning all continents. Today’s election of Pope Francis I reminds us that the Church is also one. Christ is the source of our unity – and the pope, as Vicar of Christ, is a visible sign of that unity. With the Catholic faithful from around the world, we rejoice to look to Pope Francis I as our Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth.”
Fr Carlos Mullins, a priest from Argentina who has worked for many years with Argentinians in the metropolitan New York area.
"I met him in Argentina. The last time was in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan. He was auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, who had been our teacher in seminary. He was a very low profile man, always behind the cardinal, a very humble, quiet man. He didn’t like to talk too much.
"I invited him here one year to say the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Lujan, but he had another commitment.
'In Buenos Aires, he was talking about social justice, and for people who didn’t have jobs; he was against corruption in government, and this is why he had a bad relationship with President Nestor Kirchner and now his wife [current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner] because he was very critical of the economic situation in Buenos Aires.
"As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he liked to be in touch with all the priests. He’s very well accepted by them. Nobody can say anything against Bergoglio. There isn’t any accusation that he was too strict or unjust. He didn’t even protect priests accused of pedophilia or something that was wrong. What I hear from the priests is that he is v well accepted by all the priests in the archdiocese.
"It’s true that he prepared his own food and decided to take public transportation rather than having a limousine and a driver. One day he said, “The people take buses and subways,” so he did the same. He was one of the neighbors; he didn’t want any particular privilege in food or transportation.
"A bishop who was living in the same house for some time said he got up every morning at 4 o’clock and dedicated one hour to prayer and meditation. We can say he is a man of prayer. His leading the people in prayer [from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica when he was first presented as the new pope] was a good invitation. It reminds us that the value of a person is not based on what he has. It’s what we are, not what we have, that is important. That’s the message of St. Francis. "
John F. Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association
"I am very pleased by the election of Pope Francis. As I waited and prayed before the election, it was hard to know who could be a worthy successor to our last two outstanding popes. The qualities that enabled the College of Cardinals to quickly unite in their election of Pope Francis are now coming into view: personal humility and love for the poor; consistency and courage in witnessing to all of the teachings of the Church, especially those most rejected in our times; a commitment to evangelization in word and deed; a strong intellectual formation — enough to allow him to see through popular innovations such as liberation theology; and extensive experience in leadership in the Church. In retrospect, Pope Francis now seems like a logical choice. Now let's see what the Holy Spirit has in mind for him and for the Church."
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
"My initial reaction was befuddlement, as was all the people I was sitting with at the United Nations when we were watching it on a computer, because we didn’t know who he was. We learned fairly quickly; then there was concern because we had heard that he was sort of a progressive during the Ratzinger Conclave. And then we were mollified when we kept getting these quotes from him about the hot-button issues, and he seemed to be outspokenly orthodox.
"So we ended up in the span of about 10-15 minutes going from befuddlement to absolute joy and even tears, particularly when he asked for a blessing from the people. It was an amazing rollercoaster ride from the time we saw the white smoke until he came out and spoke.
"I was at a meeting at the U.N. that was being hosted by the Holy See [Permanent Observer to the United Nations]. It was a room packed with radical feminists (it was a Holy See panel on women’s issues, and the radical feminists always show up at Holy See panels so they can ask hard questions), and Archbishop [Francis] Chullikatt, [the Holy See’s Permanent Observer] was at the head of the table. And we all got the news at the same time that there was white smoke, and you could see his face, my face, everybody’s face that was interested that there was white smoke.
"Then the archbishop said, “I’ve got to go now, I’ve got a new boss.” He was terribly excited.
It was very fun to be with all of these Catholics at the U.N. We were all kind of gathered around a computer, and people clapped. It was kind of a beautiful spectacle for all the people at the U.N. wanting to know what the heck is going on, and someone told them, “Oh there’s a new pope, and people are very happy.” It was just a very good sign for people at the U.N. also.
"We started getting these quotes by email and also on Facebook on some of the conflicts he’s had on same-sex “marriage” and the life issues. So we were all so greatly comforted to know that he was so strong and outspoken on these issues, using very strong language that the president of Argentina called medieval. So we were all quite happy to read those quotes."
Judie Brown, president of American Life League
"This is a historic moment for the Catholic Church. We now welcome Pope Francis I, whom we pray to God will follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.
"Recall that Christ said to St. Francis, "Rebuild my Church!"
"This is the very challenge that our new pope will have to confront. We need to pray for our new Holy Father, do penance, make sacrifices for him, and do all we can to intercede for him, asking our Lord to help him indeed rebuild.
"No more talk of compromise on questions of abortion, contraception, homosexuality, or euthanasia. No more tolerance for those who claim to be Catholic while supporting vile acts such as abortion.
"Please join me in thanking God for our new pope. Let us pray without ceasing for him.
"God bless you! Alleluia!"
Matthew Bunson, professor of Church history at Catholic Distance University and general editor of The Catholic Almanac
"His name tells us almost everything we need to know about him and the direction of his pontificate. We have in Francis someone who was profoundly humble. If we’re searching for one word that will encompass his pontificate, it is that word: humble, or humility.
"Francis was one of the most humble saints in the history of the Church, but Francis was also a great reformer, and he was a reformer because of love for Christ.
"Pope Francis is the first Jesuit, the first Latin American, to become pope. That in itself—the first Latin American—tells us a great deal. We recognized the distinct possibility heading into this conclave of someone from outside of Europe. The specific choice is for some of us something of a surprise.
"Still, looking back, knowing he was the runner-up in the Conclave of 2005, and he’s been a continuing presence in the Church, especially in Latin America, he represents the recognition on the part of the College of Cardinals the immensity of global Catholicism now. I would argue that the key to this is the New Evangelization. Look at what the Synod of Bishops said in October of last year, that the New Evangelization is a work of the entire Church. Yes, we continue to rebuild Christian civilization in Europe, but we also bring the entire Church into that enterprise.
"(Cardinal Bergoglio) taught literature, psychology and philosophy and served as Jesuit provincial in Argentina. He notably distanced himself from Liberation Theology very early on, at a time when it was gaining wide currency in Latin America.
"We know as well from his many years as archbishop of Buenos Aires that he’s absolutely solid and committed to the culture of life. We know that from his contretemps with [Argentine] President Cristina Kirchner in the areas of homosexual “marriage,” abortion, contraceptive mentality.
"He’s also close to the Communion e Liberazione movement.
"However long his pontificate is going to be, I think we can anticipate a very powerful spiritual reform in the Church. I think he will bring reform also to the Curia. He seems very focused, if you read his opening address, on Rome itself. I think he’s very cognizant of the fact that he is now bishop of Rome and talked about promoting Christian civilization in Rome itself. "
Msgr. Stuart Swetland, vice president for Catholic Identity and Mission at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.
"It’s already a pontificate of firsts—the first pope from Latin America, the first from the Southern hemisphere, the first Jesuit, the first Francis. And the name he chose is very indicative, both for St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier—of the direction I think he’ll want to take the Church, in terms of Gospel simplicity, commitment to the poor. St. Francis Xavier for evangelization. And of course you think of the admonition to St. Francis of Assisi: “Rebuild My Church.” I think all of those are going to be there. It’s already rich in symbolism.
"I’m very impressed with his commitment to the poor, both in his personal lifestyle but also his teaching. He’s obviously very concerned with those who have been left out of the margins because of the economic systems we have. I think he’ll teach by example, looking at the way he did it in Buenos Aires. He seems to be a man who teaches a great deal by how he lives his life: a simple apartment, no driver, taking public transport, cooking his own meal. That’s not something you see in every cardinal."
William Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College
"It’s amazing that we live in a world where you can “be” in Rome through live streaming. You don’t have to go back that far to a time when that wasn’t possible. It’s a privilege just to be able to witness it.
"I always have that feeling or sense of the Holy Spirit being present. The election of a new pope is a rare opportunity to experience Christ’s words, “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.” It’s remarkable that we get to sit here today and witness that happening again—the Holy Spirit still working in the same way, guiding the Catholic Church.
"If I’m not mistaken he was a theology professor at a university in Argentina, so obviously he’s someone who has an appreciation for higher education. I think what’s important from a Catholic perspective is the development of the whole person…becoming a well-educated, well-formed, well-prepared person to hopefully go out to the world and serve others.
"He just struck me as a very humble man and I think we have a lot to learn about him as the days unfold."
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts
"The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today hailed the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis I. He was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave which followed the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Catholic Action League called the election of Cardinal Bergoglio "a profoundly historic choice, which will mark a milestone in the story of Catholicism."
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle stated: "The demographic future of the Church is in Latin America and the Third World. Now, the Papacy reflects that. This is the first Pope who comes from outside the traditional boundaries of Christendom, which is to say Europe and the former territories of the Roman Empire. In the 471 year history of the Society of Jesus, this is the first son of Saint Ignatius to ascend the throne of Saint Peter. This is also the first successor of Saint Peter to embrace the name of our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, whose humility, asceticism and simplicity of life he imitates (though the choice of his name may also reflect devotion to one of the great missionary founders of the Jesuit Order, Saint Francis Xavier)."
"Our new Holy Father seems to represent a felicitous combination of orthodox Catholic morality—
he is an outspoken defender of traditional marriage and a critic of homosexual adoption — and the longstanding Catholic commitment to social justice and the preferential option for the poor. In this manner his pontificate might resemble those of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI. His election may also represent a willingness on the part of the College of Cardinals to confront the growing challenge of evangelical and pentecostal sects in the Catholic nations of Latin America."
"The election of Pope Francis, though unprecedented, is not entirely surprising. Although Argentina is geographically part of South America, linguistically part of Hispanidad, and culturally oriented towards the Third World, its dominant ethnicity is Italian. Pope Francis is the son of Italian immigrants."
In an interview with Boston's WBUR Radio on February 25th, C. J. Doyle predicted that the first Third World pope would be from Argentina."
Mike Aquilina, author
"I'm delighted to read about the new pope. What an inspired choice! In the run-up to the conclave we saw so many "experts" advocating one sort of candidate or another — an Italian or NOT an Italian, an American or definitely NOT. Here's a guy who's an Italian, but not an Italian, an American, but not a NORTH American. Everybody wins. What a Catholic conclusion. From all accounts, he seems a very humble and holy man, and that's the best news of all."
Fr Brian Mullady, O.P., mission preacher and frequent EWTN host
"It was a good idea to go to someone from the Spanish-speaking world because they make up a huge proportion of Catholics, especially Latin America. And if you’re going to go outside of Europe that makes the most sense. From what I understand he’s an academic but someone who relates to ordinary people. He’s also doctrinally conservative, which of course is very important, that he doesn’t try to change basic teaching. But the emphasis on social justice is something that will open people more to hearing him."
Fr Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder of Ignatius Press and a former student of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:
"I’m happy not only that he’s a Jesuit Pope, but that he’s a Jesuit who is not in favor among a lot of Jesuits, which means he’s sound. When he was touted as a possible candidate in 2005 there were Jesuits who sent around emails and things trying to tarnish his reputation, saying he never smiled, that he was way too rigid and that sort of stuff.
"I thought [his presentation on the balcony] was quite good. He asked first for people to pray, in silence, to give him their blessing in prayer, and blessed us all. I think it was a pretty good start. Obviously, he wasn’t jumping up and down in a charismatic way. He seems like a very reserved person. He’s also 76.
"There were a lot of good candidates. None of them really stood head and shoulders above the rest. But certainly no one who’s known as seeking higher office but someone who is truly humble. Being of Italian origin but being in the New World, Argentina, that bridges a gap. As some were saying, at some point we need to have a pope from Africa or South America because that’s where the Church is growing the most.
"I think it makes a lot of sense. He’s also an intellectual, he’s very serious and understands the doctrinal issues of the Church, and he’s with the poor. I think he’s really a response to people who often complain, “Oh, we’re getting these popes who are only interested in doctrine and aren’t really concerned about the poor.” But here’s a pope who really puts them both together.
"It’s an interesting name. Obviously because he loves the poor, but also St. Francis being famous for having heard the words of the lord “Rebuild my Church.”
"[As for whether he took his name for St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier (the Jesuit missionary),] it wouldn’t be either/or, it would be both/and because St. Francis Xavier was named after St Francis of Assisi. "
Fr Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life
"It’s a great choice… He has been a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which of course oversees pro-life and pro-family activities for the Church. No doubt, he’s going to be strong on these issues… Overall, the fact that he’s from Latin America is very good for the Church – it will revitalize efforts around the world related to the pastoral care of Latinos…"
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage
As you have no doubt heard, the Catholic Church has a new Pope! Pope Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina) is a humble man and a dedicated servant to the poor. He is also an outspoken advocate for God’s design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
But don't take my word for it. Read what Pope Francis said when a bill to redefine marriage was proposed in Argentina:
"Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."
He has also said:
"At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts."
I believe Pope Francis will follow in the steps of Pope Benedict XVI and provide a consistent and strong voice in support of marriage and children. Our prayers go out to him as he leads the world's over 1 billion Catholics in the weeks, months, and years ahead."
Fr. Myles Sheehan, SJ, Provincial of the New England Province of Jesuits
"With great joy and gratitude to God, the New England Province of the Society of Jesus welcomes our new Holy Father, Francis. It is an extraordinary moment in the life of the Church. Although we are, of course, excited about the Holy Father’s Jesuit roots, we are more excited about his ministry to the Universal Church and pray for courage and wisdom for him as he begins this journey of faith.
"In a special way, the Holy Father, who has, as a Jesuit, prayed the prayer known as the Suscipe, has now entered in a even more radical way into the meaning of this prayer of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits:
"Take Lord, receive all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more."
Paul Thigpen, editor of TAN Books
"I was taken totally by surprise–Jorge Bergolio didn't seem to be on anyone's radar screen. Even so, it's curious that he was rarely mentioned among the "frontrunners," given that he reportedly had the second largest number of votes in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. Perhaps he should have been receiving more attention.
"On the other hand, I'm not at all surprised to have a non-European pontiff from Latin America. I think many will see that as an indicator that the face of the Church is changing through its dynamic growth in the developing nations, and as a recognition in particular of the muscular Latino "arm" of the Body of Christ worldwide..
"I was impressed by the new Pontiff's leading the people right away in an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, as he stood on the balcony. It was a privilege to join him in that moment, praying those beloved traditional prayers with Catholics around the world.
"Even more impressive was his humility in asking the people to ask God's blessing on him before he prayed the traditional papal blessing on them. Then to show the sincerity of his request, he bowed and asked them to pray on the spot in silence. Such humility, I understand, has been a hallmark of his priesthood and episcopacy in Buenos Aires.
"I was surprised that the chosen cardinal is 76 years old. Like many, I was thinking that the conclave would be more likely to choose someone younger. Perhaps they decided that long experience was more important at this point than youthful vigor. I do understand, however, that our new pontiff has been in good health.
"I was perhaps most surprised by the election of a Jesuit, the first Jesuit pope in history. Given the sometimes rocky relations between the Jesuits and the papacy in history, and the theological leanings of many Jesuits in recent years, this could lead to a whole new chapter for that order!
"Finally, I'll be curious to know whether the name Francis was taken to honor St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier. I'm thinking that the latter is the case because he was a celebrated Jesuit missionary. On the other hand, it could well be the former, in recognition of that saint's deep humility and love for the poor. The new pope has been known for his embrace of a simple lifestyle in solidarity with the poor of his flock.
"I have a great deal to learn about our new Holy Father. God bless him with every grace he will need for the immense task that lies ahead!"
Fr Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International
"On behalf of the pro-life missionaries of Human Life International around the world, I extend congratulations to Pope Francis; as well as a promise of our prayers and fidelity. We were struck by his humility in such an august moment, especially when he asked all of us to ask the Lord to bless him before he imparted his first papal blessing upon the Church and the world. We will certainly continue praying for him, asking that the Lord grant him peace and wisdom, strength and courage, and give him every grace necessary to guide the Church during this time."
Fr. Bob Spitzer, president of Magis Institute
"This Pope is a remarkable man who I never would have predicted to be chosen. I think he will carry out the mission of the Papacy exceedingly well. First and foremost, everyone views him as a living saint with great fidelity to the Church and a deep concern for the poor – nothing could be more important than this foundation – and then layered upon the foundation is high intelligence – including the sciences and the humanities (as well as languages) and a proven administrative capacity. I also hear that he is “politically astute.”