Rome — To be in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday night was to be at a family reunion. A disperse, divergent family, united by the Gospel, the Sacraments, the tradition, the history. When Pope Francis came out, there was great love. Even before he did … never before have I heard a crowd of tens of thousands so quiet. So hopeful. So at peace. Despite all the problems all around them, and even done by those claiming to be Catholic, there was joy.
Because we have a Good Shepherd, and here cardinals, united in prayer with the prayers of Catholics and others throughout the world had been discerning a choice, the choice, they prayed, that would be the gift of a priest God wanted for the world at this moment.
If you were standing in the Square, as I was – very much planning after my 5 P.M. interview to be having dinner with old friends and getting some sleep after a 2:40 or so A.M. CNN interview the night before — you experienced great excitement as the white smoke billowed. So many people I stood with in the square told me they didn’t so much want their guy to win – including the joyful Canadians on pilgrimage — as to see him, to be there for a historic moment, to welcome a Holy Father.