There was not a “dry eye in the house” at the Sistine Chapel the moment when former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the next pope, with the 115 cardinals meeting for the conclave then bursting into applause, according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
“[It is] a remarkably emotional experience, even though we weren’t surprised, because we could see it coming as the votes was tallied, and we see the direction that the Holy Spirit was leading us,” Dolan told “Good Morning America” today. “But, still, the moment he got to the number needed, 77, was wonderfully inspirational. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
Bergoglio, 76, the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, from now on to be known as Pope Francis, is the first pope ever from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope.
Dolan described how the nature and identify of Jorge Bergoglio was changed and formed into Pope Francis Wednesday.
“He was a man who just a couple of hours before we were pouring coffee with and walking through the halls of St. Martha and chatting with,” he said. “Now, all of a sudden, he’s our holy father, and we’re pledging him our love, and our allegiance, and our loyalty and our prayer.”
Pope Francis was described as “serene” at the time of his election.
“As it became clear to all of us that he was probably going to be the man, we watched him closely, and he was remarkably at peace,” Dolan said. “He did not seem to be rattled, and did not seem to agonize over things. He was just a man of resignation.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington told “Good Morning America” today that although Pope Francis now has an enormous responsibility, he expects to see a great simplicity of style in the new pontiff.
“I think we got a little taste of that when he stepped out onto the [balcony],” Wuerl said. “While vested in white, he didn’t seem to lose that characteristic simplicity, charm, quietness. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of personality change in him.”
Wuerl said that when Pope Francis stepped in from the balcony after greeting the public, he walked into the dining room where the cardinals were to have supper, entering the room the same way he had every other time in this conclave, by greeting his brothers and simply taking his seat.
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On his first full day as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, Pope Francis was rumored to plan to do something no other pope has had the option of doing for centuries: meet with a predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The Vatican said early today that Pope Francis won’t be calling on his predecessor, but would see him another day.
After Bergoglio was chosen by his peers Wednesday, Dolan told reporters Francis expressed a desire to meet with Benedict today.
“Very touchingly,” Dolan said Wednesday, “he said tomorrow — we knew we were going to have Mass with him in the Sistine Chapel — he said, ‘Is it OK if we have Mass in the afternoon together because in the morning I want to visit former Pope Benedict?’ which is very beautiful.”
Benedict has retired to Castel Gondolfo, approximately 30 miles away from the Vatican.
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Pope Francis opened his first morning as pontiff by praying at Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The coming days will be busy ones for Pope Francis.
Francis will celebrate a mass today at the altar in front of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel, as dictated by tradition, and he will pray at Rome’s St. Mary Major basilica.
He will hold an audience Friday with the cardinals in the Sala Clementina in the Apostolic Palace.
Pope Francis’ Official Schedule
On Saturday, it will be time to meet the media: a morning session with journalists in the Paul VI Audience hall. Finally, on Sunday, the pope will recite the Angelus from the window of his papal apartment.
The main event, though, will come Tuesday morning with the new pontiff’s installation mass. The ceremony will take place on the church feast day of St. Joseph, a holiday for many in Rome, and Father’s Day in Italy. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the delegation from the United States.
With papal appointments also a possibility in the coming days, it will be a busy period for the church’s 266th pontiff. After already making history with his election, the job of leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics now begins in earnest.
Full Coverage: The Papal Conclave
When Bergoglio appeared on a balcony overlooking a packed St. Peter’s Square Wednesday night, the crowd of about 150,000 who had gathered on the cold, wet night erupted in applause, waving flags, singing songs and cheering the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The enthusiastic, emotional reaction to the newly elected Pope Francis, who wore a simple wooden cross, stood in contrast to the low-key remarks he gave soon after.
As the first Latin American to lead the church, the first Jesuit and the first non-European in centuries, his election as pontiff is a historic one, one that left some of the devoted in the square overcome with excitement and simple disbelief.
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“I started crying. I couldn’t stop it,” Santiago Gonzalez Cutre of Argentina said.
Another Argentine in Vatican City for the occasion, Victor Nunez de la Rosa, said he still could not believe his countryman had become the next pope.
Rafael Castro of Honduras hailed Bergoglio’s election as “amazing” and “incredible.”
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From Vatican City to Buenos Aires and elsewhere across the globe, reaction to the new pope was positive.