Jose Antonio Cruz, a Fransiscan friar at St. Francis of Assisi church in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico said "It's a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait. Everyone from Canada down to Patagonia is going to feel blessed." [MSN]
George Weigel wrote, "The election of Pope Francis completes the Church’s turn from the Counter-Reformation Catholicism that brought the Gospel to America — and eventually produced Catholicism’s first American pope — to the Evangelical Catholicism that must replant the Gospel in those parts of the world that have grown spiritually bored, while planting it afresh in new fields of mission around the globe." [National Review]
David Gibson of Religion News Service said, "Bergoglio has brought to the papacy a passion for the poor and an example of humility and simple living that can draw the notice of an inattentive world -- just as those attributes have since the early days of Christianity, on up through the great era of church reform in the Middle Ages."
Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
The Catholic Church in 2013 is falling into ruin. The church has been damaged by scandal and the scandals arose from arrogance, conceit, clubbiness and an assumption that the special can act in particular ways, that they may make mistakes but it's understandable, and if it causes problems the church will take care of it.
Pope Francis already seems, in small ways rich in symbolism, to be moving the Vatican away from arrogance. His actions in just his first 24 hours are suggestive.
Writing in First Things, Maureen Mullarkey said, "We have been blessed with a pope whose life as a cardinal was shaped by humility and faith. Yes, it is true: 'Grace is everywhere.'”
The New York Times reports that Pope Francis said that his predecessor's eight years as Pope had “lit a flame in the depths of our hearts that will continue to burn because it is fueled by his prayers that will support the church on its missionary path.”
In what may be yet another signal that he intends to serve differently, on his second day as the pontiff, Pope Francis picked up his own luggage at the Vatican hotel, thanked each member of the staff personally and paid his own bill. In Argentina Francis was known for his compassion and humility. Among other things he gave up his chauffeur and took the bus to work.
His life seems reminiscent of another servant.
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
~ Matthew 20:26-28