THE SUN HAD SET over Vatican City on March 13 as the white smoke barreled out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, announcing the election of a new pope. The smoke eventually stopped, but the rain did not, and those crowded into St. Peter’s Square seemed unfazed. The anticipation could be felt: people danced, sang, waited.
Minutes later, clad in a simple, ivory-colored robe, the man once known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, emerged to greet the crowd—and the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide— as the new pope. For a moment he stood motionless, save the occasional wave to the 150,000 who came to meet him.
When the crowd quieted, Pope Francis, the 76-year-old Jesuit from Argentina, said, “Brothers and sisters, good evening. You all know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him. But here we are.”
Then, in an unprecedented move, the pope asked the crowd to pray for him. When that moment of silence ended, he invited Catholics on a journey with him—one of love, of prayer, and of brotherhood. The flock had a new shepherd.