The selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope of the Catholic Church has energized Cape Region Catholics – especially Hispanics.
Bergoglio, 76, who took the name Pope Francis, is the first pope in history from the Americas.
“It is great for Latin Americans, but also for all Americans,” said Deacon Jose Rodriguez Trejo, a member of St. Michael's the Archangel and Mary Mother of Peace in Georgetown.
The Spanish mass held at St. Michael's at noon on Sunday is guaranteed to be crowded. On most Sundays, the Spanish service hosts 700 people, but Trejo said even more could come this weekend.
Trejo said he believes Pope Francis will be a different type of pope because he will bring more attention to Catholicism in Latin America.
“He is an outsider, and he will effect change,” Trejo said. “Because of this, the number of Catholics in Latin America will only increase.”
Trejo believes more people will join the church now that they feel the pope is looking out for them. According to the 2010 “Annuario Pontificio,” the official yearbook for the Catholic Church, 28 percent of the world's more than 1.1 billion Catholics live in South America.
“In the past 10 years, Latin America has been forgotten by the popes, but now I know the attention will come back,” Trejo said.
The mood in Georgetown and in Latin America was one of celebration, Trejo said.
“I called my family in Argentina, and they say it's like Argentina won the World Cup of soccer,” he said. “Everyone is outside and very happy.”
Al Hanley of St. Jude The Apostle Church in Lewes said he also is happy with the choice of Pope Francis.
“I was just reading about him yesterday, and he appears to be a very humble man,” Hanley said. “They made an excellent choice.”
Hanley said he has learned that Pope Francis is a Jesuit, meaning a member of the Society of Jesus. Jesuits adhere to strict rules and orthodox faith, Hanley said.
“I was educated by Jesuits in school, so I was pleased a Jesuit had been chosen,” Hanley said.
The parents of the new pope moved to Argentina from Italy leading some Catholics so say Pope Francis is well placed to unite European and South American Catholics. He reportedly lived simply, in a small apartment in Buenos Aires where he frequently uses public transportation.
“He represents the poor and disempowered,” Hanley said. “He is a frugal and modest man. When he came to the balcony, I felt we could see his humility. He's very genuine. He's the real deal.”
Bishop Malooly to celebrate the installation of Pope Francis with Mass
The Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving for the Installation of His Holiness, Pope Francis, at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 19 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 345 Bear-Christiana Road, Bear.
Priests of the Diocese will concelebrate. The Mass is open to the public and all are invited.
The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington was established in 1868 and comprises 57 parishes, 18 missions and 30 schools serving the State of Delaware and the nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. There are over 233,000 Catholics in the diocese. Information about the diocese is available at www.cdow.org on the Internet.