While Roman Catholics around the world celebrated a new pope, Victoria custodian Lucas Coldicutt marked a second milestone when he rang the bell at St. Andrew’s Cathedral Wednesday to announce the new leader.
“That’s two popes for me,” Coldicutt said.
“I don’t know how many custodians around the world got to ring the bell today, but you know, I feel pretty privileged to have rang it for two popes.”
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was named pope at 12:13 p.m. Victoria time.
He chose the name Francis.
Coldicutt, who converted to Catholicism 15 years ago, was watching the news over lunch at his apartment when he received a phone call from the Blanshard Street church, asking him to perform the customary ringing.
“I ran,” he said.
He called it a “pretty important moment” in his life. “I’m pretty darn excited as a Catholic to finally have my leader back,” he said. “It’s been 10 days of just kind of like, what? I feel like I don’t have a dad. And today, I feel like a have a dad again.”
Bishop Richard Gagnon of the Diocese of Victoria said that kind of reaction is well understood. “For Catholics, we look upon the pope as a shepherd of the church and the image of a shepherd is one who looks after his sheep and so there is a very close bond … and a deep love for the popes. I can understand that man’s feelings.”
Gagnon said his reaction is one of “outward joy and inner reflection” about what the new pontiff will mean for Catholics and how he will shepherd the church with his particular talents and skills.
As Pope Francis appeared on a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, the noon-hour mass at St. Andrew’s continued with minimal interruption, according to custom. However, several members of the congregation said they were excited by the news.
Catherine McGhee called it an inspired choice.
“I kind of thought [the new pope] would come from South America because there are so many Catholics there and so much poverty. I think they really need someone who knows the difficulties of the world, so I’m hoping for the best.”
Most congregation members interviewed knew little to nothing about Bergoglio, but said they were optimistic. And, in the face of recent criticism of the church and calls for modernization, they said they believed Bergoglio will guide the church in good faith.
“Change has to come slowly with the majority of people supporting it, so it’s something you look forward to, but not immediately,” Oleh Kuzma said on his way into church.
Father Luyen Dau of St. Andrew’s said he was happy about the decision.
“The Holy Spirit will give him strength to lead the church,” he said. “I believe he has the capacity and confidence to do that.”
— With files from Cindy E. Harnett
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