Canadians react to new Pope
TORONTO—Canadians greeted the choice of a new Pope with cheers and congratulations yesterday, though a small contingent expressed regrets that the Catholic Church’s 266th leader wouldn’t be one of their own.
Messages of goodwill began pouring in from religious and political circles alike moments after the pontiff’s identity was revealed, and continued as the news spread.
“It is my sincere hope that Pope Francis’ faith, devotion, and conviction will foster greater peace, understanding, and tolerance among the peoples and religions of the world,” Harper said in a statement.
Among the first to offer prayers and congratulations was one of the Canadian cardinals involved in electing the new pontiff.
Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, congratulated the Pope in a statement issued by the archdiocese minutes after the announcement from the Vatican.
In the statement, the archdiocese said its members will pray for the Pope’s “spiritual strength, wisdom, and humble example,” and is confident “he will guide the Church for years to come.”
The United Church of Canada also offered its congratulations to the new Pope, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“May all people of faith and goodwill join hands in solidarity with the new Pope in the common pursuit of caring for one another and for all of creation,” Right Rev. Gary Paterson, moderator of the church, said in a statement.
That the 266th pope is from Argentina may come as a letdown for those who had hoped for a Canadian pontiff.
Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet was considered one of the top contenders to replace the retired Pope Benedict XVI, who unexpectedly stepped down last month.
Ouellet, 68, who is from the hamlet of La Motte located about 600 km northwest of Montreal, heads the Vatican’s important bishops’ office.
Carlo Tarini of Quebec’s Association of Victims of Priests said the group is “disappointed” Ouellet will not succeed Benedict, but said the cardinal still is young and “may yet get a second chance.”
“Had [Ouellet] been selected, this would have facilitated the path of Quebec’s victims,” Tarini said in a statement.
“The international spotlight would have shined on cases that are dragging before the courts in Mgr. Ouellet’s home province, as well as in his former diocese of Quebec,” he noted.
But those in the church said they trusted in the conclave’s decision.
Rev. William McGrattan, the auxiliary bishop of Toronto, said his support for the Quebec cardinal hasn’t faltered.
“Am I disappointed? No,” he said yesterday afternoon in a news conference at St. Michael’s Cathedral.
“I think we have to sort of realize that there are sometimes, at a human level, disappointments,” he conceded.
“But men of faith, they trust that God has chosen well,” he added.
“In many ways, maybe the world and the media had selected others, but God and the Holy Spirit and the human instruments in the College of Cardinals chose under that inspiration.”
The new pontiff is the first from Latin America and the first from the Jesuit order.
The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires asked the crowds in St. Peter’s Square for their blessing as he addressed them shortly after the cardinals announced their choice.