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Central PA celebrates new Pope

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Harrisburg – Habemus papam. “We have a Pope.”  The news rang out across the world yesterday.  The shock waves resonated from the Vatican to Central Pennsylvania where the new Pope is being met with open arms and eager eyes.

There are so many firsts associated with the selection of Pope Francis.  He is the first ever Pope Francis.  He is the first Pope from South America.  He is also the first ever Jesuit leader of the Catholic Church.  With all of these firsts, many hope that the Pope’s nomination will bring with it a renewed sense of belief in the Catholic Church.

The new Pope was introduced to the world last night at the Vatican.  Formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the 76-year-old is the first ever Pope to hail from South America.  He also becomes the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.

His name is in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th century saint who decided against a life of wealth, instead choosing a life of poverty and service. His elevation on the second day of the conclave came as a surprise, with many Vatican watchers expecting a longer deliberation, and none predicting the conservative 76-year-old Bergoglio would get the nod.

Bishop Joseph McFadden of the Archdiocese of Harrisburg is predicting great things for the Catholic Church’s new leader.

“The church has its problem.  The church has had troubles.  The church has not been faithful in proclaiming the gospel the way it should.  I think all believers deep in their heart understand, the message the church delivers is the message that resonates with the human heart,” said Bishop McFadden.

Pope Francis is the first-ever Jesuit leader of the Catholic Church.  The Jesuits are known for their commitment to the poor and disenfranchised.  The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires is known for giving up his posh residence and driver, instead choosing a simple life.  He was known to ride the bus to work and live in a simple apartment where he cooked his own meals.

Many people all across the world are hoping this appointment signifies the willingness of the church to change.  Two-thirds of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide are from outside of Europe, including an estimated 66 million right here in the U.S.

To celebrate the installation of the new Pope, Bishop Joseph McFadden will be holding a mass at Saint Patrick’s at noon tomorrow.