Newport News, Va. – Pope Francis I, though only elected hours ago, has already made history as the first Pope elected from South America.
“For me, it’s like this is something that’s good news because I never realized that somebody from South America is going to be named a new Pope, says Father Carlos Lerma, a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Newport News and native of Colombia.
Father Lerma says the Pope’s experience in South America will help him reach out to the needs of all people, and be a voice for the voiceless.
“Those who are the poor, those who are migrants, those who have been coming from other parts looking for justice, looking for better opportunities,” Father Lerma says. “He’s very sensitive to that reality and that makes a difference.”
The new Pope is also making history in another way, as the first to take the name Francis, drawing connection to St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was a great missionary that spoke the work of God and lived among the poor.
“I think that name and that image of being Francis will bring a lot of hope to the Catholic Church and bring a lot of answers to the peoples’ questions, bringing a lot of healing to those who have been reconciled,” Father Lerma says.