(VATICAN CITY) — There was not a “dry eye in the house” at the Sistine Chapel the moment when former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the next pope, with the 115 cardinals meeting for the conclave then bursting into applause, according to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
“[It is] a remarkably emotional experience, even though we weren’t surprised, because we could see it coming as the votes was tallied, and we see the direction that the Holy Spirit was leading us,” Dolan told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday. “But, still, the moment he got to the number needed, 77, was wonderfully inspirational. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
Bergoglio, 76, the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, from now on to be known as Pope Francis, is the first pope ever from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope.
Dolan described how the nature and identity of Jorge Bergoglio was changed and formed into Pope Francis on Wednesday.
“He was a man who just a couple of hours before we were pouring coffee with and walking through the halls of St. Martha and chatting with,” he said. “Now, all of a sudden, he’s our holy father, and we’re pledging him our love, and our allegiance, and our loyalty and our prayer.”
Pope Francis was described as “serene” at the time of his election.
“As it became clear to all of us that he was probably going to be the man, we watched him closely, and he was remarkably at peace,” Dolan said. “He did not seem to be rattled, and did not seem to agonize over things. He was just a man of resignation.”
On his first full day as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, Pope Francis was rumored to plan to do something no other pope has had the option of doing for centuries: meet with a predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The Vatican said early on Thursday that Pope Francis won’t be calling on his predecessor, but would see him another day.
After Bergoglio was chosen by his peers Wednesday, Dolan told reporters Francis expressed a desire to meet with Benedict on Thursday.
“Very touchingly,” Dolan said Wednesday, “he said tomorrow — we knew we were going to have Mass with him in the Sistine Chapel — he said, ‘Is it OK if we have Mass in the afternoon together because in the morning I want to visit former Pope Benedict?’ which is very beautiful.”
Benedict has retired to Castel Gondolfo, approximately 30 miles away from the Vatican.
Pope Francis opened his first morning as pontiff by praying Thursday morning at Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The coming days will be busy ones for Pope Francis.
The new pope will celebrate a Mass on Thursday at the altar in front of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel, as dictated by tradition, and he will pray at Rome’s St. Mary Major basilica.
On Friday, he will hold an audience with the cardinals in the Sala Clementina in the Apostolic Palace.
On Saturday, it will be time to meet the media: a morning session with journalists in the Paul VI Audience hall.
Finally, on Sunday, the pope will recite the Angelus from the window of his papal apartment.
The main event, though, will come on Tuesday morning with the new pontiff’s installation mass. The ceremony will take place on the church feast day of St. Joseph, a holiday for many in Rome, and Father’s Day in Italy. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the delegation from the United States.
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