Chicago Catholics embrace new pope, pray for him at Mass

Six time zones away and the news of a new pope in Rome created excitement here in Chicago.

As the celebratory bells peeled for 10 minutes outside Holy Name Cathedral, Catholics around the world rejoiced over the announcement of Pope Francis, just yesterday a cardinal from Argentina, today the head of the Roman Catholic Church 1.2 billion strong.

The importance of the role is clear to Catholics as far away as Chicago. The Pope asked for prayers for him as the church introduced the pontiff to the world.

And churchgoers here responded at 5:15 mass. What’s typically a somber place for prayer during Lent, today, the Mass of Thanksgiving was full of changes to songs and readings to reflect the joyous nature of the day. Gold and white bunting was hung  out front, a symbol of celebration for the city to see.

People shared their optimism after mass. Jorge Bergoglio now a pope destined, they agree, to set the church on the right course.

While the Holy Father may be a new face and name to people worldwide, he is familiar to Monica Mavric Beltrami. She is from Argentina and is now a judge at the Chicago Archdiocese. She has met him twice since 2009.  She calls him approachable, a good listener and humble in every way, not waiting for others to wait on him.

The church has made its choice.  Catholics in Chicago are settling into the idea of Pope Francis at the top.

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