Indy Archbishop: New Pope Brings Universality

INDIANAPOLIS — Church bells rang at the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart as Indiana Catholics from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River celebrated the election Wednesday of the first pope from the Americas.

“The immediate effect on people here in Indiana is, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a pope who speaks my mother tongue,’” Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin said at a news conference, referring to the many Indiana Catholics who grew up speaking Spanish.

The College of Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tobin will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving for Francis at noon Thursday at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

“My hope is that Pope Francis will bring universality to the church. It’s a reminder that the church is a big tent,” Tobin said.

Notre Dame also will celebrate a special Mass for him at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in its basilica in South Bend.

“We at Notre Dame join the Church in rejoicing in the election of Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas,” said the university’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins. “He is known as a humble and holy servant of the Church whose simple life and concern for the poor make his choice of the name Francis particularly appropriate.”

In taking the name Francis, the new pope drew connections to the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi, who felt called to rebuild the church during a time of turmoil.

Tobin described the saint as “life-giving and healing.”

“The new pope may have been recognizing that things have to be done and healed in the church,” Tobin said. “Francis was seen as one of the great preachers of the Gospel.”

Jennifer DeSilva, a Ball State University history professor and papal researcher, believes the election of a new pope on just the second day of the conclave signified that cardinals are more modern than some people might believe.

“These are very busy men who have a lot of work to do back at home,” she said. “They didn’t waste any time.”