U.S. cardinals describe Pope Francis as ideal choice for modern times

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U.S. cardinals walk to board a bus from the Pontifical North American College to attend the Mass for the election of the Roman pontiff in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 12. Pictured from left are Cardinals Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and Sean P. O'Malley of Boston. (CNS/Paul Haring)
U.S. cardinals walk to board a bus from the Pontifical North American College to attend the Mass for the election of the Roman pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 12. Pictured from left are Cardinals Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and Sean P. O’Malley of Boston. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two U.S. cardinals described Pope Francis as an ideal choice to lead the church in the modern world.

“He is the perfect choice for this moment in the church,” said Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl March 14.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters March 13 that the pope met all of the cardinals’ qualifications.

He said they wanted to “choose the right man” who would be “a man of God, a man of good pastoral governance, with a sense of the church universal and a good communicator.”

“He fills those bills,” he said.

He also said the pope’s nationality is a plus.

“Where he comes from is gravy, and we got a lot of good gravy with a man coming now from Latin America. You talk about a booster shot to the church in the Americas. This is going to be a real blessing.”

The cardinals noted that the pope has a style that will appeal to many Catholics.

Cardinal Wuerl said the pope’s style reflects the church’s emphasis on new evangelization, “inviting people to take a look again at the church’s Gospel message.”

“His invitation is not just by words but by personal witness,” he added, pointing out that the new pope, former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been “an active presence” among Catholics in his archdiocese, often making parish visits and attending church events.

“He does this as pastor of souls,” he added, pointing out that this will “be a hallmark of his pontificate.”

Both U.S cardinals said the pope’s style was particularly obvious in the way he greeted the massive crowd assembled in St. Peter’s Square when he was first announced.

Cardinal Dolan said it was “magnificent” when the pope asked everyone in the square to pray in silence for him and the whole square was completely hushed. He also loved how the pope led everyone in praying the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be, saying that was similar to something a father, a good teacher or a good catechist would do.

He said another aspect of the pope’s personality was revealed right before the pope was supposed to appear to the crowds. Many people inside the apostolic palace wanted to speak with him first, but the pope had heard that it had been raining and said he should go to the balcony first because he didn’t want to keep the people waiting.

“That’s a very spontaneously, gracious remark to make,” the cardinal told reporters at the Pontifical North American College.

Cardinal Wuerl appreciated that the pope immediately greeted the crowd by saying good evening in Italian, which he said “pushed aside all formality.”

He noted that Pope Francis has “firmness in faith and gentleness in dealing with people.”

“Isn’t that what we look for in a bishop?” he said.

The cardinal said he worked with Cardinal Bergoglio on a synod council and found the then-cardinal to be “mild mannered, soft spoken and clear in thought.” He said he enjoyed working with him because of his “great clarity” and also the pastoral experience he brought to discussions.

He said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires had not been afraid to speak up on issues defending the church’s “counter-cultural message.”

He also said it was significant that the pope chose the name Francis, pointing out that St. Francis was “not a mild retiring person. He was demanding of himself and others … but he did it in such a way that you couldn’t help but love him.”

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— By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service. Contributing to this story was Carol Glatz.

1 COMMENT

  1. These are great words from great faithful Catholic Cardinals and leaders. These men are the real shepherds of Christ’s flock, brought together in support of Pope Francis by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Church continues to shine in faith, in defiance of the forces of darkness that try to destroy us.

    Note the tsunami of silence from misters Mahoney, DiNardo, and O’Malley (and George of Chicago). These are public figures who have NEVER shrunk away from a camera or a microphone in the past. Contrast their absence with the with the love and hope in the faces of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to greet the new Pope. As our Savior tells us, “Peter is the rock, and on this rock I will build My Church. The gates of hell will never prevail against My Church.” Thanks be to God.

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