'I'm Just Sitting Here Crying,' Bloomingdale Catholics React to New Pope
Catholics throughout the area tuned in today as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named pope.
Nellie Negron couldn't contain her tears as she watched the televised announcement of the naming of the new pope.
"I'm just sitting here crying," said Negron, a member of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico. "I can't believe it. It's a very emotional moment."
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected pope earlier today, taking the name Francis I, the first pope to choose the name "Francis."
For Negron, the election of the first Latin American pope is especially significant. She was born in Puerto Rico and spent a lot of time working in Argentina.
"I really love that country," she said. "The people are so wonderful."
With 39 percent of the world's Catholics living in Latin America, many in poverty, Negron said she views the election of Pope Francis I as a turning point for the Latin American people.
"He's very humble, very much a man of the people," said Negron. "He's a man of compassion and love. Those are the qualities you want to see in a pope."
Cuban-born Rick Tauceda, also a St. Stephen parishioner, agreed.
"My initial reaction is that the whole Latin community will be energized by this, especially in this country," Tauceda said. "I think you'll see an emphasis on third-world countries, especially Latin and South America. It represents great hope for those people."
St. Stephen's pastor, the Rev. William Swengros, was among the millions of viewers watching as the white smoke billowed from the chimney pipe on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
While he said he doesn't know a lot about the new pope, what he's heard is impressive.
Not only did the former archbishop of Buenos Aires take the bus and prepare his own food but was known by the people of that city for his humility.
"I think it’s great," said Swengros. "He’s very strong and conservative. And he's an outsider who will be able to reform the Curia."
That he hails from the New World is especially meaningful, said Swengros.
"The church in Latin America is so vibrant and has the largest percentage of Catholics," he said.
Taking the name "Francis" is in keeping with the qualities the new pope has exhibited during his long career with the Catholic Church.
It's the name of two of the Catholic Church's most venerated saints. Saint Francis of Assisi St. lived a life of poverty as an itinerant missionary and Saint Francis Xavier was one of the founders of the Society of Jesus in 1540, an order known for its mission work and emphasis on education.
The newly elected Pope Francis I is the first Jesuit pope.
"Taking the name Francis tells you he’s a bridge builder," said Swengros. "He’s really reaching out to the people."