It was just a little after 1:30pm when the fireworks began. I had just spoken with Cassie who told me that her taxi driver said the new Pope was soon to be announced. As the cracks and bangs sprang out, I flipped open the computer and went to live coverage at the Vatican. It seemed as if the unthinkable had occurred, a pope from Latin America had been chosen!
The celebration continued into the night as an impromptu procession made its way through many streets of Managua celebrating the news. Today the headline of our local newspaper read, “Un Papa Humilde” or “A Humble Pope.” In it, the Archbishop of Managua, Leopoldo Jose Brenes said, “it is beautiful to have a Pope that is so close to us, a gift from the Argentinian church for the world.”
It seems as though the people of Nicaragua are quite ecstatic about the possibilities that may be the result of the first ever election of a Latin American Pope. The excitement is compounded due to the fact that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is considered to be progressive in the area of social matters. However there are concerns that morally he is considered to be quite conservative, adhering to traditional views concerning the roles of women, rights of gays and lesbians and other moral issues.
The people here are seeking liberation and are hoping that Francis I will bring about many of the changes that were a part of the vision of the Vatican II. Many people have also expressed and taken pride in the fact that though Pope Francis I is Argentinian, he is first and foremost, part of the Latin American world.
As Cassie and I watched the news last night, she told me about her time with her taxi driver, Miguel. As they waited for the announcement, sweating in an old beaten up car, Miguel shared his dreams for the church in Nicaragua and across the world. We need someone who understands the plight of the people and who has walked alongside the poor. We need someone who will advocate for the rights of all human-kind. When the announcement was made and as we learned more about our new pope, tears of joy streamed down Miguel’s face.
From our perspective it has already been an interesting twenty-fours hours with a Latin American as Pope and we look forward to the way in which his work and the Catholic Church will change and grow as we live here in Nicaragua.
"Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share. Go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit."
-Pope Francis I