Dungannon parishioners and clerics happily stunned by Pope Francis’ election
THE bells have rung out in Dungannon as parishioners including the town’s small but growing Latin American population gathered to celebrate the election of the new Pope.
When Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was introduced as Pope Francis on Wednesday evening, local parishioners watched TV screens or followed the news on their mobile phones.
The new pontiff was greeted by crowds roaring their approval when he appeared at the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square, about an hour after white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
He endeared himself to the crowds, and underlined his reputation for humility, when he asked them to bless him before blessing them in return.
The first Latin American and Jesuit pope has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world, especially from South America.
Dungannon Parish has planned a special evening Mass to celebrate the election with an expected strong showing from the town’s growing Latin American population.
Dungannon’s Dean Colum Curry said there was a small amount of his parishioners from the South American continent, most notably Brazil, and the news would give them a significant boost.
Tyrone’s senior cleric admitted to being shocked when the Pope’s identity was announced.
“The announcement caused me great surprise”, he said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wasn’t even aware of Cardinal Bergoglio, let alone suspect that he might be a front-runner.
“I think that the new Pope was in shock himself. He appeared very grave and serious at the start of his blessing, although he did smile afterwards. He was clearly overwhelmed by the moment.
“I also felt sorry for the commentators who were caught unawares and obviously scrambling to find out who the cardinal was. “However, I believe that his election is great news for the Catholic Church, as well as for Latin Americans including those now living in our parish.
“We don’t know a lot about him, but he has made a very favourable first impression already. The fact that he did not wear a mantle, and spoke ad lib to the people and asked them to pray for him shows an humility and directness that augurs well for the future.
“It is a time for a new beginning in the Church and the fact that he is an outsider and from a different continent makes change more likely.”
Rossy Hamill, who is from Venezuela and now living in Donaghmore, said she was thrilled by the news.
“This is great news for South America and the Church. It was exciting, but also a shock to see him emerge onto the balcony. “I’d been expecting perhaps the Brazilian cardinal to emerge but not the Argentinian, whom I’d never heard of.
“He seems on first impressions to be a very charismatic man, who has done a lot for the poor in the past.
“It makes me very proud to be from South America, and to have him representing the world church,”
Rossy added that her brother, who is currently studying in Argentina, was experiencing at first-hand the celebrations.
76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is the first pope from South America. He considers social outreach to be one of the essential jobs of the Catholic Church and in a moment many people called “extraordinary,” he knelt to pray for the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square and asked them to pray for him.
The new Pope has a history of delivering shocks in his home country. In keeping with the Jesuit vow of poverty, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio sold the expensive archbishop’s residence in Buenos Aires used by his predecessors, choosing to live in a modest apartment where he does his own cooking and often visits the city’s poorest slums.
He triggered more shock waves last year with a speech accusing some fellow Church leaders of sinful hypocrisy, declaring they seemed to forget that Jesus Christ himself bathed lepers and shared food with lowly prostitutes.
He also criticised priests who refused to baptise children born out of wedlock, calling them ‘hypocrites’.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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