Bay Area Catholics Welcome Pope Francis

Many Catholics noted that Pope Francis and the city of San Francisco are both named after St. Francis of Asissi

Not long after the bells of the Vatican started ringing in Italy, the bells of St. Mary's Cathedral joined in as San Francisco joined the rest of the world in welcoming in a new pope.

Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday. He became the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

He chose the name Francis, associating himself with the humble 13th-century Italian preacher who lived a life of poverty.

"I'm really excited to be at the Cathedral here to be able to witness the election of a new pope," Raymond Ogbemure, a priest from Richmond said. "This is certainly a very happy and historic day for the Catholic Church.

San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said he was overcome with feelings of joy and peace at the election of Pope Francis.

Cordileon said the Bay Area shares a special connection with the new pope. He noted that the new pontiff took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, which is also San Francisco's namesake.

San Francisco's former Archbishop Cardinal William Levada was also one of 115 cardinals who selected the pope. 

"He would have brought the perspective of the church here and the people here in the Bay Area," Cordileon said.

Bay Area Catholics say their prayers are with Pope Francis.

"Let's hope we can have some changes and the American Catholic church is very different from the rest of the world so I think it's quite important everyone be listened to," St Mary's Parishioner Virginia Baldelli said.

"For Latino Catholics we see it as a triumph the first reaction is triumph but as I told you before with the triumph comes the cross," St Mary's parishioner Gustavo Calderon added.

Father Arthur Leibscher of Santa Clara University says when he heard the name of the new pope Wednesday morning he couldn't believe it. 

Father Leibscher knows Pope Francis. He says he is a quiet and humble man. The two spent a few weeks together outside of Buenes Aires in the late 1980s when the pope was still a "padre."

Pope Francis is known for his deep prayer, his kindess and his commitment to the poor.

"He’s famous for moving out of the (Episcopal) housing there in Buenos Aires. He lives in a small apartment there. He takes the subway to work. He will stop and talk to people on the subway. He lived as he grew up, which was as an ordinary citizen of Buenos Aires," Leibscher S.J. said.

Father Leibscher said he can understand why the cardinals selected him, adding he is a man who will stand by his convictions and his teachings no  matter what.

Pope Francis is the longtime archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is the son of middle-class Italian immigrants and is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed.
Not only did he take public transportation to work, he cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

Latin Americans burst into tears and jubilation at news that the region, which counts 40 percent of the world's Catholics, finally had a pope to call its own.
"It's a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait,'' said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar at the St. Francis of Assisi church in the colonial Old San Juan district in Puerto Rico.

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