On Wednesday, March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope, taking the name Pope Francis I. He is the first Jesuit, first Latin American and the first pope to take the name Francis. Members of Xavier's Jesuit community offered their thoughts on the election of a fellow Jesuit to the papacy.
Michael J. Graham, S.J.
“When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope, I was completely stunned—as were many people, it seems, from whom I began to hear very quickly! But that surprise yielded quickly to a profound sense of gratitude. That the Holy Spirit should choose a man from the tradition of Ignatius Loyola to lead the Church must be a deep consolation for anyone and everyone associated with any Jesuit ministry throughout the world. That Pope Francis is a Latin American Jesuit, I have no doubt that he will bring a particular care and concern for the poor and marginalized to his Pontificate, for that sensibility has been an overwhelming gift of Latin American Jesuits worldwide."
John Heim, S.J.
"Of course, the election of a new pope presumes the Holy Spirit is alive and well and looking to the good of God's people. In a specific way this election gives the Church a greater sense of its universality. I believe all the popes previous were European. The personal lifestyle of Francis I gives credence to Vatican II's imperative that the Church identify itself with the poor."
J. Leo Klein, S.J.
"I am very happy with the choice of our new Bishop of Rome, Francis I, for many reasons. He comes from a part of our world which represents the true scope of the universal Church. Also, since he is rooted in Ignatian, Jesuit formation, I feel an immediate sense of communion with him. God bless him in the many challenges ahead."
Joseph Bracken, S.J.
"Pope Francis is clearly not fond of ceremony for its own sake; he is a seemingly humble, down-to-earth human being. That’s good, considering the way that the Vatican bureaucracy in the past has more often than not exhibited the opposite attitude to the faithful. But the real test for his Papacy will be, on the one hand, to bring about the same humble mind-set within the Vatican bureaucracy so that these ecclesiastical bureaucrats likewise deal with people more gently and straightforwardly. On the other hand, he himself will have to find a way to merge his doctrinal conservatism with concrete pastoral practice. What it often comes down to, in my judgment, is to uphold the moral principle at issue but to allow for exceptions to the rule when circumstances seem to demand it. Not an easy task for anyone, least of all for someone whose every word in these contested areas gets attention from the media immediately. What I say makes little difference to most people; what a Pope says makes a huge difference to a lot of people, both inside and outside the Church. Francis deserves our prayers."
Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., PhD
"I’m thrilled to share with now Pope Francis the commitment of the Society of Jesus to faith and justice: 'For reconciliation with God demands the reconciliation of people with one another.' I like the choice of the name Francis in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi who loved God’s creation. I hope Pope Francis encourages the strengthening of the local church and the active participation of all the baptized."