VATICAN CITY — The world has a new pope, and the effects are being felt all the way from the Vatican to the Gogebic Range.
The general emotion felt by local priests is excitement at the announcement of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio being elected pope Wednesday afternoon. He is from Buenos Aires and will be known as Pope Francis I.
“I am very excited about this,” the Rev. Frank Kordek, of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hurley, said. “He is a man who lives simply, living in an apartment, taking the bus to work and cooking his own meals. He chose the name Francis, the first pope to do so, and as a Franciscan myself, and having chosen the baptism name Francis, I am very excited.”
The Rev. Robb Jurkovich, of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Ironwood, said that he “couldn’t be happier” with the selection. “I believe that he is exactly what we need,” Jurkovich said.
According to the Rev. Ben Hasse, of St. Sebastian Church in Bessemer, Immaculate Conception Church in Wakefield and St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Marenisco, Pope Francis I is continuing a tradition of simplistic living, started by the last two popes, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
“Both of them lived lives of great simplicity, so for me, it’s not a question of him changing the church, but continuing to serve the church faithfully,” Hasse said. “Hopefully, he will continue the extraordinarily good and faithful work of the past two popes.”
For Jurkovich, the pope should be more than a figurehead.
“I want him to be present in as many countries as possible, with as many local people as possible, to show them that he is a real person, not just a figurehead or phantom,” Jurkovich said. “Show them that he understands humanity and what everyone goes through in the spiritual life. Be that solid beacon of hope that God is still with them every day.”
Kordek said every pope brings a “spirituality” or “prayer life” to the position, something he hopes to see continue with the new pope.
“I hope that he feels comfortable in continuing to do so, without having pressure to change,” Kordek said. “He has been described as a peaceful man, and I have heard it mentioned that he is a ‘living saint,’ which is quite a compliment. He quoted the words of Pope John XXIII that he would like to be a ‘service to all of the people.’ I want to wish him well with that.”
Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, former bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, also expressed his excitement in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“I am overjoyed and filled with hope as we welcome Pope Francis as our new holy father and shepherd of the universal church,” Sample wrote. “I pledge my fidelity to the successor of St. Peter, and I promise my prayers for him as he begins this awesome and heavy responsibility as the spiritual leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world.
“It is exciting to have a holy father who comes to us from our own hemisphere here in the Americas,” Sample continued. “It should be very interesting to see what perspective a pope from South America will bring to the ministry of the papacy. I encourage all of the Catholic faithful to open their hearts to our new holy father and to pray for him as he has so humbly asked us to do.”