New Pope Francis: Diocese of St. Pete, Westchase React
The 76-year-old was selected the 266th pontiff on March 13.
Bishop Robert Lynch, Diocese of St. Petersburg, released a welcome letter congratulating Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon on his selection as the 266th pope.
"Your Holiness, the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Church of St. Petersburg in the United Sates of America send you their love and prayers on the occasion of your election to the See of St. Peter and embrace you as our universal pastor. Our hearts are full of gratitude today to our gracious God and to the Holy Spirit and to your electors for choosing you for this awesome Petrine ministry. We also thank you for your generous 'yes'.
Promising you our filial support and wishing you every blessing."
According to the Associated Press, the 76-year-old Pope was selected the 266th pontiff in a brief five-ballot conclave. The AP reported the cardinals, "clearly decided that they didn't need a vigorous, young pope who would reign for decades but rather a seasoned, popular pastor who would draw followers to the faith."
Francis asked for prayers for himself, and for retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose surprising resignation paved the way for the conclave that brought the first Jesuit to the papacy.
"Brothers and sisters, good evening," Francis said to wild cheers in his first public remarks as pontiff. "You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome."
The Diocese of St. Petersburg has announced a Mass of Thanksgiving at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz. The public is invited.
The Diocese covers 3,177 square miles in five counties, including Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco. It serves a total population of about 2.9 million, of whom more than 425,000 are Catholic, according to the Diocese website.
Westchase Patch Facebook fans reacted to news of the pope's selection by liking a post on the page.
Nearby Carrollwood-Northdale Patch Facebook fans had words of welcome for the new pope.
"Very encouraged by what I've heard about him being a humble man," wrote Ligia Cohen. "I look forward to his leadership to create a more genuine and transparent Church."
What do you think about Pope Francis' selection? Share your thoughts in the comments section.