Catholics in the D.C. region reacted with jubilation on Wednesday to the election of 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Maria Begoglio of Argentina, now known as Pope Francis.
On the campus of Catholic University in Northeast D.C., students first heard that white smoke was billowing from the Sistine Chapel via Twitter, and were quick to spread the news.
"I was in class, actually, in school, studying ecclesiology— study of the church," says Brother Athinatious. "I had just finished a quiz about what it means to be part of the people of God — the church. And I heard that we have white smoke."
Bells were ringing, and students and faculty reported there was an atmosphere of joy and celebration.
"This is a wonderful situation for us. He is somebody who has worked for many years in the Curia in Rome, but as well is a deeply pastoral man who has guided his flock in Argentina," says Father Mark Morozowich, Dean of the School of Theology. "In Argentina, as we all know, they speak Spanish. So he's at home in Spanish, at home in Italian and at home in English, so he can be a great communicator and reach people in the languages that they're used to communicating."
At least one Catholic figure in the region professed that he didn't see the selection of the new pope coming. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori says he was surprised at the selection of the new Pope Francis.
Lori says that is only because the Argentinian cardinal's name wasn't mentioned as frequently this time as it was when Pope Benedict was selected.
When asked about the selection of the first pope from Latin America, Lori noted Pope John Paul II once referred to the Americas as the "Continent of Hope.'' Lori added that he could only imagine the hope and joy welling up in the hearts of Hispanic Catholics.
Lori also joked that the selection of the Argentinian cardinal will probably also do wonders for that country's soccer team.