A Jesuit From Latin America Is Elected 266th Pope

by Ricky Rillera


NEW YORK – Filipino Americans welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, a Jesuit, as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church as soon as a white smoke appeared at the Sistine Chapel chimney on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m  happy with news! Viva Santo Papa Francisco I – Un Jesuita!,” said Ner Martinez in an email which he sent immediately after knowing the entity of the new pope.  Like other Jesuit-educated Fil Ams in the tri-state area, he is proud of the first Jesuit to take the papal throne. A product of Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, he was previously co-chair of the Ateneo Alumni Association Northeast and is a current board member of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. in New York.

The new pope, who took the name Pope Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, was elected on the second day after four rounds of voting and will serve as the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics.   He is the first pope from Latin America.

Within hours after he was voted in,  the big bell of St. Peter’s Basilica rang confirming the election.

Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., the Superior General of the Society of Jesus in Rome, issues the following statement on March 14, 2013:

“In the name of the Society of Jesus, I give thanks to God for the election of our new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., which opens for the Church a path full of hope.

All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time. The name of “Francis” by which we shall now know him evokes for us the Holy Father’s evangelical spirit of closeness to the poor, his identification with simple people, and his commitment to the renewal of the Church. From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth.

“The distinguishing mark of our Society is that it is . . . a companionship . . . bound to the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service.” (Complementary Norms, No. 2, § 2) Thus, we share the joy of the whole Church, and at the same time, wish to express our renewed availability to be sent into the vineyard of the Lord, according to the spirit of our special vow of obedience, that so distinctively unites us with the Holy Father (General Congregation 35, Decree 1, No. 17).”

According to news reports, the 76-year-old pontiff received at least 77 votes from the Catholic Church’s 115 cardinals who voted in this papal election.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who was the first Filipino priests to be considered “papabile” (serious contender for the papal throne) and a member of the conclave that elected the new pontiff, urged the faithful to thank God for his gift,  Pope Francis.

“When I approached Pope Francis to assure him of the closeness and collaboration of the Filipinos, he said, ‘I have high hopes for the Philippines. May your faith prosper,’” Tagle was quoted to have said.

President Aquino, himself a product of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, said he prayed the Catholic pontiff would serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions.

“It is indeed a happy and momentous time in the life of the Catholics and also of all the peoples around the world that we have a new Pope Francis 1,  the global leader (spiritual and otherwise) of the Catholic Church.  I join those who have been educated in the Jesuit tradition and take pride in having the 1st Jesuit Pope. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!,“ said Dean Suba of Suba Law Offices in New York.

“The conclave played out against the backdrop of the first papal resignation in 600 years and revelations of mismanagement, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy.  Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, had divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical refort of the Holy See’s governance and those defending the status quo.”

“As the first pope from outside Europe in a millennium, the election of Pope Francis brings with it the promise of renewal in the Catholic Church, as it strives to fulfill its mission here on earth,”  President Aquino’s  spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“We hope and pray that this will inaugurate a pontificate that will bear witness not only to the basic tenets of the Gospel, but will also serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions.”

“The choice of the new Pope, Argentine Jorge Bergoglio is a good one, although I favored our Filipino Cardinal Tagle”, said Ernie Gange of Pennsylvania.

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