Pope Francis I was welcomed by three local Catholics, who described his election Wednesday as an exciting step toward change in the church and world.
“This is a sensational, spectacular, stunning choice to lead the church,” said the Rev. John Rosson, pastor of St. Mary’s Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown.
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina became the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe.
By choosing the papal name Francis, he associated himself with St. Francis of Assisi, a humble 13th-century Italian preacher who lived a life of poverty and who saw his calling as an opportunity to rebuild the church in a time of turmoil, the Associated Press reported. Pope Francis, 76, the son of middle-class Italian immigrants, is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries enjoyed by previous Buenos Aires cardinals.
Cardinals elected Bergoglio on the fifth balloting.
“They made a bold, courageous choice,’’ said the Rev. David Mickiewicz, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Oneonta. “His choice signals a real change about how the papacy is run.’’
Not only is the newly elected pope from a non-European country, Mickiewicz said, but he also is “aligned with the poor’’ and from South America, where countries have been under dictatorships. Mickiewicz said he expects the newly elected pope will challenge the internal structure of the church, make it more transparent and “clean the house’’ of issues that have become obstacles to proclaiming the Gospels.
The election of a pope from predominantly Catholic Latin America is significant because of that area’s economic and social transition, said Mario Arevalo, a member of St. Mary’s in Oneonta who originally is from Bolivia. A pope from Argentina will have a significant role as a leader as those countries continue to emerge onto the world platform, he said.