The 100,000 people who were gathered in St. Peter’s Square that chilly evening of March 13, drawn by the legendary white smoke from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, wondered what the first words of the 266th successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis, would be. Certainly something profound, theological, cerebral …
“Brothers and sisters, good evening!” came softly, simply and sincerely from the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“You’d think he was an older brother coming home from work!” one of the thousands of journalists observed.
And with that friendly greeting, this newly elected earthly leader of the planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics began to enchant us. It got even better when, a minute later, he bowed down and asked the throng to bless him.
In his first official sermon, six days later, he continued to captivate us, as he encouraged us, Do not be afraid to love! Do not be afraid to be tender!
The Cardinal sitting next to me remarked, “He talks like Jesus!” To which I replied, “I think that’s his job description.”
Stay tuned — we’ve got a simple, uncomplicated, sincere shepherd, like Jesus, like St. Francis. Just what we needed! Viva il Papa!
Dolan is the Archbishop of New York
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