By Seth Gonzales
Special to The Texas Catholic
In front of a large congregation and members of the media at the Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell celebrated two Masses of Thanksgiving on March 17 in honor of Pope Francis.
At the first Mass, in Spanish, to a packed cathedral, the bishop told the congregation that the pope’s election was a great joy because he was the first pope from Latin America and that he “was one of us.”
He said that the election of the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is very significant, especially since more than 40 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America, and many of them poor. Before he was pope, the cardinal, who was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, lived and worked among the working classes in that large metropolis. He chose the name Francis, he has said, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated himself to helping those less fortunate.
Bishop Farrell also said that the election of the first pope from the Western Hemisphere is a tribute to the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas.
He asked those in attendance to pray for the pope so that the Holy Spirit would guide his papacy.
At the Mass in English, the bishop repeated the impact to the church.
“Brothers and sisters, this is an historic moment in the life of the church,” Bishop Farrell. “But not only for the church, for the whole world. It is a time for all of us to lift up our Holy Father in prayer, that the Holy Spirit will guide him, will inspire him and will empower him to teach the Word of God.”
The election of Pope Francis marked a number of firsts in papal history, he said. Along with being the first Latin American pope, Pope Francis also is the first Jesuit and the first to take the name Francis. That his election comes during the Year of Faith is also significant because it should prompt Catholics to re-examine and rededicate themselves to living their faith, he said.
After Mass, Bishop Farrell spoke with members of the media and shared his impressions and expectations of the new pontiff.
“I think the changes you might see would be in terms of style,” Bishop Farrell said. “Church doctrine has lasted 2,000 years. But I think he is a very humble man with a great love for the people. He has always been on the side of the people, especially in difficult political situations.”
Editor David Sedeño contributed to this report.