Ga Tech Catholic Center Buzzes Over Pope Francis
Students gather around the television Wednesday to see and hear from the new leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.
Georgia Tech senior George Hagler said he felt a rush of excitement and exhilaration when he got the text Wednesday afternoon saying that white smoke was pouring out from the Sistine Chapel chimney.
“We all ran to the TV to see,” said Hagler, referring to his fellow students at the Georgia Tech Catholic Center. “It was surprising because we didn’t think it would be for a few days at least. We were like, ‘What?!”’
Of course, the smoke signaled that the conclave had chosen Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church. The first ever from South America and the first from outside Europe in the modern era chose the name Pope Francis I.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who cited health reasons in becoming the first pope to step down in some 600 years.
“It’s amazing the humility that our previous pope had in stepping down and with that came the huge excitement for the next one,” Hagler said following Wednesday’s late afternoon mass at the Catholic Center, which serves the Georgia Tech community “in order to integrate Christ into their lives, their lives into the Church, and the Church into Georgia Tech” according to its mission statement.
“Pope Francis – just the name invokes this idea that, well, Saint Francis almost single handily rebuilt the church,” Hagler said. “Saint Francis really inspired men with his love for God and from what I understand (the pope) has that passion. … He’s known as a man of the people.”
The 76-year-old Bergoglio chose to associate himself with the humble 13th-century Italian minister who lived in poverty. The new pope is a Jesuit who has also worked closely with the poor.
"He's truly a holy man," said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta about Bergoglio during a live newscast of ABC News Wednesday afternoon next to news anchor Diane Sawyer.
Gregory was visibly moved by the gestures and words of Bergoglio, whom he said has won the hearts of many Catholics already with his simple message.
"He speaks in a common way, in a way that connects with people," Gregory said, continuing later, "I've heard that he's a saint, that he is so committed to the service of the poor, to living simply..."
According to Catholic tradition, the newly appointed Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church consisting of 1.2 billion Catholics.
The Catholic Church's 115 cardinal electors voted in this papal election, and the newly appointed pontiff received at least 77 votes. The white smoke appeared after five rounds of voting.