Everyone felt a little Argentinian and extremely happy today, according to members of diverse religious orders who attended the Pope’s installation Mass this morning.
“Today everyone feels Argentinian, or at least us Latin Americans do,” said Peruvian priest Father Jose Tola at Saint Peter’s Square.
“I’m extremely happy and excited,” he told CNA during the March 19 inauguration Mass of Pope Francis, which officially began his pontificate.
American Cardinal William J. Levada described it as “a wonderful and exciting day.”
“It’s a beautiful day here – Saint Joseph’s feast day, installation of the new Holy Father – so I’m all excited and we pray for him, ” said the cardinal, who is prefect emeritus of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
Clergy and religious attended the Mass, along with around 200,000 others. The Italian national police and numerous other agencies were careful not to allow too many people in the square, and they also took security precautions by blocking the streets surrounding the Vatican.
Members of the religious order The Small Work of the Divine Providence from Mendoza, Argentina said they had already planned the trip before the Pope Francis was proclaimed the new pontiff.
“It’s such a huge emotion that words cannot describe it,” said a blonde middle-aged lady, who is a member of the order.
“God has rewarded us with this present to be next to Pope Francis,” she added.
Brazilian Brother Paolo said Pope Francis “is a blessing from God.”
“Brazil is waiting for him (for World Youth Day), and Brazil is going to love him, and he is going to love Brazil,” Br. Paolo said.
Another Brazilian, Brother Wagner Campopiano, said that the Pope “has won my heart” and that today’s inauguration brought him “heavenly happiness.”
Several clergy from other Christian denominations, who will meet the Pope tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., were also at the Mass.
“It gives the truly Catholic sense of the Church that it goes beyond, not just our own ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but also beyond the whole world,” said Archbishop William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic eparchy based in Pittsburgh, Pa.
A religious from the Little Sisters of Jesus order noted that they came because they are part of the Church and they “want to live in communion with everyone that is here.”
“Being here is feeling the Church’s heart through the crowd, and we’ve come because of his very simple, gentle and human gestures,” said Sister Donata, who lives in Rome.
Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association, described the Pope’s installation Mass as “a pilgrimage.”
“There’s just such excitement out in the square today with all the young people, heads of State from all over the world,” said Ferguson.
“People forget that this is important to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and it’s beautiful to see people from around the world,” she added.
“The Church is the largest charity in the planet, educates more children around the world and is the strongest defender of human rights and of the dignity of the human person,” Ferguson said.