I watched every minute of the selection process as the conclave consisting of 115 Catholic Cardinals from around the world selected a new pope to lead the Catholic Church.
It felt like a presidential election, or the wedding of a British Royal – just couldn’t avoid the coverage, and became invested in the end result.
But this is a bit different for me because I was an alter girl, I was baptized, celebrated my Communion and made my Confirmation at St. Michael’s Church. I attended Cardinal Spellman High School, a Catholic high school in the Bronx. I am seriously Catholic!
And when the new pope was announced, I felt a surge of joy and gratefulness that I hadn’t felt in association with being Catholic in a long time.
My new pope is Pope Francis – no numeral after his name because he is the first to choose that name. He is Latino, from Buenos Aires and the first non-European Pope.
MY NEW POPE HAS SWAG!
Pope Francis is known for his simplicity and closeness to the people, that’s why he chose that name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi; a man just like him who turned away from wealth and bonded with the poor. SWAG.
He rides the subway in Buenos Aires, he asks people to call him by his name and drop all the “Cardinal Sir,” “Monsignor Sir” stuff – and he does not like people kissing his hand. SWAG.
He lives in a small apartment and cooks his own meals instead of living in the lavish quarters reserved for the Archbishop. SWAG.
He asked thousands of people in St. Peters Square to be silent and pray for a blessing on him as he undertakes his new role as the Holy Father. The crowd fell silent. All 150,000 of them! Completely silent. SWAG.
He’s less stuffy, a people person, a pope that wants to be close to everyday people. He scolded some priests last year when they refused to allow babies of single mothers to be baptized in the church. The babies were baptized. SWAG.
He’s a conservative reformer and wants to take the Catholic Church in a new direction, move back toward the people with the message of the Gospel. SWAG.
For me, a Black/Spanish female Catholic, I’m hoping for a new day in the Catholic Church where we begin to resolve the conflicts of women serving at high levels in the church and giving women the ability to be ordained.
I’m hoping for swift action against sexual abusers and peace for their victims. I want more black Catholics and more black Catholic churches. I want to take my daughter to Italy so she can visit St. Peters Square and walk around the Sistine Chapel.
This Sunday, I will pray a special prayer for Pope Francis and the future of the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers.
Now, to the world, he’s Pope Francis. But for the everyday Catholics that have known him for decades, riding the bus and subway, helping the poor, he’s just Father Jorge. SWAG in a simple white cassock.
–Mo Ivory, CBS Local