DE PERE - "It's a big surprise to everybody, but you know, the church is full of surprises, especially when the Holy Spirit takes over," explained Bishop David Ricken during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Bishop Ricken says he was surprised not only because the new pope wasn't someone well known, but also because the decision came so quickly.
St. Norbert Religious Studies Professor Tom Bolin felt the same way.
"This ranks as one of the three fastest conclaves in the last 100 years or so," explained Bolin.
Bolin says there were really no decided front-runners this time around. That's why he expected the conclave to go at least through Thursday.
Pope Francis' age also came as a surprise.
"At 76 years-old, some people thought going into the conclave, the cardinals were going to find a young man, but clearly the, his qualifications for the job, which were enough to garner him a good number of votes in 2005, apparently that sentiment still held," Bolin said.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope. Bishop Ricken says it's unclear what role that could play.
"They're dedicated to the intellectual life and so they've been considered a strong force, perhaps it'll tie the Jesuit order even more into the Papacy and even more in serving the church universal," Ricken said.
And Bishop Ricken says being the first South American Pope shows just how universal the church is.
"I think it's about recognizing the number of Catholics in Latin America, but also recognizing that we need to reach out to the rest of the world, not just European west," Ricken explained.
Bishop Ricken will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the new pope this Sunday at 9 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay.
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