Young people from South America are enthusiastically embracing Pope Francis' pontificate, encouraged to have a pope from their land and hopeful about the future of the Church.
“I liked the Pope from the beginning, seeing him stunned and amazed at the balcony; that said a lot about his humility,” said Rodrigo Chávarri, a 24-year-old from Peru.
“I felt very much a part of the Church to know that he is Latin American, especially since it is a call for the entire continent, a very particular and direct call,” he told EWTN News.
Chávarri said he was initially surprised by the choice, but believes that rather than electing one of the “papabili,” the cardinals elected the person whom the Holy Spirit showed them.
“I was excited to see how the Holy Spirit chooses and sends priests for the times,” he reflected. “Nobody predicted with precision the profile of the Pope, but now that we know who he is, we see that he is the ideal.”
On March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected as Pope, taking the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. His election has brought great joy and excitement to those living in his home country of Argentina and all those in Latin America.
Adela Romero Carranza of Argentina recounted that she was in adoration when she learned there was a new Roman Pontiff.
“It was about 3 in the afternoon, and the parish’s bells began to ring. I immediately understood why,” she said. “The bells rang for about ten minutes straight, and I was thrilled.”
Carranza, age 18, recalled crying when Benedict XVI's papacy ended, feeling “empty and uncertain.”
“But on Wednesday, March 13, my crying was different,” she explained. “I still did not know who the Pope was, but I was happy. I knew that the boat of the Church had a helmsman, and I asked the Lord to accompany him always, and give him the strength to exercise his ministry.”
Pope Francis' pontificate will be “an opportunity for renewal for Latin America,” she said, voicing hope that the Holy Father can “bring us ever closer to God.”
Camila Carsalade, a 29-year-old from Brazil, said that her first impression of Pope Francis was that of “a very simple man, with a good sense of humor, illuminated by the Holy Spirit and ready to take over an important mission.”
“I expect he will lead us through the most profound issues that are generating a crisis in the Church with wisdom,” she said.
“Also that he will 'rescue' the most basic principles of the Church, such as simplicity, solidarity and love, and by doing so, he will reconcile more people around the world to the Church,” she predicted.
Matías Conti, an Argentine, said he did not think “that anyone was expecting an Argentinian Pope, so hearing the mention of Bergoglio as the new successor of Peter was an enormous shock.”
The 21-year-old said he felt joy, pride and hope at the election of Pope Francis, noting that “he has proven to be a witness of humility and austerity, so the name Francis suits him.”
The new Pontiff, he said, is “shocking in a good sense” for those in Argentina and across the world who are away from the faith. He believes that Pope Francis offers Argentina “an enormous possibility of change and also of conversion.”
“The fact that it is a Latin American Pope is going to be very important for evangelization in the region, which currently sees much corruption and ideologies contrary to those of the Church,” Conti explained. “Many people that I have talked to have mentioned to me that the election of Francis reminds them of John Paul II in the age of communism in Europe.”
“At the same time, I think that Argentine society in particular finds itself divided for various reasons, and Francis is going to be a leader that will help us to unite ourselves again,” he added.
Ignacio Romero Carranza, 16, also from Argentina, was privileged to serve at the altar for Pope Francis six years ago with his brother.
“He said to us, 'Never leave the service of the altar.' It was very exciting,” Carranza related.
“He’s already begun to give a great example and has sent us memorable messages. He is a humble Pope, who knows what to do and say.”