Bishops from Nebraska and Iowa are welcoming newly elected Pope Francis, 76-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
"I look forward to his leadership in maybe helping us direct out efforts more to preaching the gospel to those people and places in the world where there is great need and bring hope to places where there might be a great deal of brokenness,” Omaha Archbishop George Lucas told Channel 6 News by phone.
Father Greg Baxter at St. Margret Mary’s in Omaha believes the cardinals chose a very humble pope. “I am just blessed we have a new leader, someone who is a man of humility and a man who seems to be, for lack of a better term, to just be a man of the people. He is going to be a man who again is reaching out to all the world and the Hispanic population in Latin America, the Hispanic population in the United States. This is a great gift to them obviously, but also a great gift to all the world, all the Catholics and the Christians and all people of goodwill.”
Lucas also released a statement from Baltimore, where he's attending a meeting of the Catholic Relief Services board, saying," I join the whole church in giving thanks to Almighty God for the gift of a new Holy Father to lead us. I invite all in the Archdiocese of Omaha to pray for Pope Francis as he begins to serve as our chief shepherd. We all look forward to becoming better acquainted with him in the days to come and to enjoying his pastoral leadership."
Bishop Martin Amos from the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa posted a note online welcoming the new pontiff. Amos said he's sure cardinals considered many factors in their selection. He said they picked a leader who could bring reform to issues such as church scandals, Mass attendance, the role of women in the church and evangelization.
An Argentinian, Bergoglio is the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. Bergoglio is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first pontiff to adopt the name of Francis, the rich young man from Assisi who renounced wealth and founded the Franciscan order of friars in 1290. The choice could foretell the pope's priorities in striving to bring a sense of serenity to the troubled church. St. Francis is said to have been called by God to repair a church in ruins. The name Francis symbolizes humility, poverty, simplicity and rebuilding.
Choosing the name of one of Italy's patron saints also ties the new pope to Italy, the homeland of all popes of the last few centuries until 1978.
The installation mass of Pope Francis will be next Tuesday.