Statement of Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., on the Election of Pope Francis I

The Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent join the community of faithful from throughout the world in gratitude to God for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I.
Watching the announcement of the new Pope, I was struck by the number of young people from throughout the world who made their way to St. Peter’s Square and waited with great anticipation for hours to hear the announcement. Their excitement was exhilarating and it struck me that while the Church is one of the oldest institutions in the world; at the same time, it is a very young Church. The energy of the young people and their enthusiastic response to the announcement reflects the unity of the Church around the world. It is a time of a new beginning in the life of the Church.

As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis has a longstanding reputation as a man deeply committed to issues of social justice. His love for the people and sheer humanity were reflected in his first words in greeting the crowd: “bona sera” – good evening. The new Holy Father has also chosen the name Francis which calls to mind the great St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved saints in our Church. The humility and life of St. Francis obviously have been a great inspiration to Pope Francis. For St. Francis to be a disciple is to be like Jesus – caring for the poor, the outcasts, the marginalized. His name also calls to mind St. Francis Xavier, the missionary who brought the gospel message to Japan and Asia in the early 1500’s. The election of Pope Francis I reminds us that the Church is universal – every country, every person needs to be embraced by the compassion and love of Jesus Christ. His first message to the world as Pope fills us all with great hope as he begins his new mission as Chief Shepherd of the Church. He is in our prayers.

—Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., Saint Vincent Archabbey.