New Pope Francis Elected: Catholics in Potomac, Bethesda React
The white smoke appeared on Wednesday, signaling that the conclave had chosen Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church. Locals across the community responded.
Bethesda Catholics are reacting with excitement to the news that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected pope.
At 3:22 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Bergoglio, who took the name Pope Francis, appeared on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square after news outlets reported that white smoke was pouring from a Sistine Chapel chimney, signaling the election of a new pope.
Roman Catholic Church cardinals began meeting Tuesday at the Vatican. The 115 voting cardinals took four or five votes over two days, USA Today reported.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl—archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, which includes Washington, DC, and Maryland's Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties—took part in the selection process.
The Guardian describes Bergoglio as "a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus and has a practical approach to poverty."
In Bethesda, students at the all-girl Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart gathered to watch a live stream as the new pope addressed crowds in Rome. The school divided into three groups for the lower, middle and upper schools as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church spoke.
One of the campus ministers sent an email to the school announcing the watch parties as soon as the smoke appeared in Rome, said Connie Mitchell, a school spokeswoman, who watched with the middle schoolers.
“There was a nervous excitement," Mitchell said. "Every time anything happened they got really loud—when the curtain in the window moved and the light went on, the girls clapped."
Mitchell said the school's religion teachers will likely incorporate discussions about the newly-elected pope into classes this week.
“Everyone is excited he’s a Jesuit, and I think there’s excitement around the fact that he’s named Pope Francis,” Mitchell said. “Francis was known to be a real reformer, so people are embracing it. Everyone is eager to learn more about him.”
At Our Lady of Mercy School in Potomac, students also were gathering to watch as Pope Francis spoke.
Catholics also reacted to the news in nearby Georgetown, a neighborhood known for its Jesuit university, Georgetown Patch reported.
Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, elected in 2005, became the first pope to resign in 600 years last month.
A Mass for Washington area Catholics is planned for Wednesday evening to mark Bergoglio's election.
How are you reacting to the news of Pope Francis' election? Do you think his age—76—is a good one for the papacy? Tell us in the comments.