When tmatt saw the number of local reaction stories I planned to mention, he made me promise to keep this post under 5,000 words. I told him I'd hit the high points (and the low ones, of course).
Without further ado, I want to present a few nominees for limited-edition GetReligion awards for coverage of Pope Francis' selection.
Best use of "firsts" in a lede
It may take time before Seattle-area Catholics learn whether Pope Francis shares their views on specific issues. But many found things to like in the new pontiff Wednesday:
First pope from the Americas. First Jesuit. A man from a developing region and one who has chosen a humble lifestyle.
Their comments made it clear that the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the 266th pope turned a page in church’s 2,000-year history.
“The whole school stopped for about an hour to watch this historic moment,” said Father William Heric, chaplain at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish.
First pope from this hemisphere. First Hispanic pope. First pope taking the name “Francis.” North Texas Catholics grabbed on to facts Wednesday about the man who until that afternoon had been Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aries.
Josefina Flores of Arlington was in downtown Dallas with her daughter and heard the bells peal at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. They ducked into the sanctuary to say a prayer for the new pontiff.
“He comes from a spiritual country and he seems so charismatic,” she said. “I have high hopes for him.”
While Wednesday’s election of a new pope may not have included the “first” that many St. Louisans were hoping for — namely, the election of Ballwin native Timothy Dolan as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics — it did contain three others.
And that’s not an easy accomplishment for a 2,000-year-old institution.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is the first pope in history to choose the name Francis, in honor of one of the most popular saints in history, Francis of Assisi.
“He selected for himself the name of Francis, which tells you a great deal about the new Holy Father,” said St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson. “As you know, St. Francis was a man of simplicity and peace as he lived out the gospel. We can assume that our new Holy Father will do just the same.”
Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit supreme pontiff in the church, and his chosen name could also be a nod to the great 16th-century Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier — familiar to generations of St. Louis University students as the namesake of College Church.
“We’re proud, as a Jesuit institution, that it was a Jesuit selected to be pope,” said David Laughlin, president of St. Louis University High.
And, of course, Francis, until Wednesday the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope from Latin America.
Worst overgeneralized, unattributed statement
Bergoglio is seen as a leader who can bridge the divide between social liberals in the church and orthodox traditionalists; between the growing church south of the equator and the historical church of Europe; and between Jesuits, who are seen as more liberal, and conservative movements in the church.
The new pope will find himself in a delicate balancing act, adhering to traditions on which the faith is based yet moving them forward to address critical issues such as transparency, trust, the role of women in the church and better handling of the sex abuse scandal. ...
Few doubt that the church needs reform.
Though most people in Connecticut knew little about him before Wednesday, the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope filled the state's Roman Catholic community with hope for a different perspective in the Vatican.
Best use of a quotation in a lede
When the Rev. Marco Ortiz saw the name of the new pope flash across the TV, he whispered to himself: "Wow."
The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to lead the Roman Catholic Church, Ortiz realized, ushered in an era of firsts.
He is the first pope from the Americas. And he is the first pope who shares the mother tongue of many Latin Americans — Pope John Paul II spoke fluent Spanish, but with the accent of a non-native speaker, and Benedict spoke it more haltingly.
Early Wednesday morning, Perry native Zach Kautzky tweeted: “The feeling here in Rome is that anything could happen.”
By Wednesday night, it did. Kautzky, the chaplain at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines who is on a pilgrimage to the Vatican with his brother, stood only 100 yards from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica when the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina — the new pope — emerged.
In a crowd tens of thousands strong, “I really felt I was surrounded by a beautiful community of faith,” he told The Des Moines Register later via Skype. “We were blessed to be in that crowd.”
"He rides the bus! He's one of us!"
About 100 exuberant Catholics chanted in singsong Wednesday near the Colorado Capitol at a rally for newly elected Pope Francis.
The gathering was a prelude to a Mass of Thanksgiving for the new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, celebrated across the street at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Few at the gathering of mostly young Catholics had heard of Bergoglio, formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, before his fifth-ballot selection in Rome on Wednesday by 115 cardinals sequestered in the Sistine Chapel.
Best explanation of significance to Latino community
Many from Chicago's large Latin American community cheered the selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the Roman Catholic Church's new pope, though the joy stemmed from more than simple cultural commonalities.
Some saw the possibility that a pope hailing from a region densely populated with Catholics might unite the church the world over. Others wondered if a non-European pontiff would bring a different view of the world to the Vatican. And some suggested that Bergoglio's reputation for austerity and hands-on experiences with the poorest of Argentines might shape the church's global priorities.
"He's going to be the first pope from the Americas, so hopefully he'll bring new ideas," said Angelo Di Bernardo, 56, of Naperville, who lived in Buenos Aires until he was a teenager. "He seems to be a humble man. Most of the Latin American countries, they're poor countries with humble people. So hopefully this will give those people a boost, something to believe in, hope, and someone they can refer to."
In the Chicago Archdiocese, where an estimated 42 percent of the more than 2 million Catholics are Hispanic, the selection of Bergoglio resonated deeply.
At special celebrations across the Milwaukee area, there was a sense that Wednesday's announcement signaled a fresh start. The selection particularly resonated among Latinos and Jesuits, who claim a special kinship with the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to occupy the throne of Peter.
"It is a historic moment in the church," Father Jose Moreno told the worshippers at a Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Milwaukee's south side. "This is not just one point in the history of the popes. This is a new beginning for the church."
Margarita Guerrero, who attended the Wednesday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was equally taken by the moment.
"I cannot express in words. It's very powerful, such an honor," she said. "We're going to make history. It's really a gift."
For Yolanda Herrera, there was much to celebrate as news spread on Wednesday of the election of the first Latin American pope.
“I think he will have a very good impact on the Hispanic community here,” said Herrera, 56, administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an Hispanic parish with one of the largest mass attendances in the Diocese of Nashville.
“He knows the Spanish roots. He is going to understand Spanish culture and the devotion we have in our families and our hearts.”
After all of the above, if you only have time to read one regional newspaper story on the papal selection, you might consider this front-page report from the Indianapolis Star.
The Star provides interesting insight from Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who knows the new pope:
For more than three weeks in 2005, Tobin sat at the side of the man who is now pope, and got to know him as someone humble in spirit, who lived simply. He learned that Bergoglio — shepherd to more than 3 million Catholics in Buenos Aires, lived in a small apartment, cooked his own meals, got to work by riding the bus or the subway or driving a Volkswagen.
“What impressed me about him was his simplicity,” Tobin said, “his lack of pretension.”
Your turn, GetReligion readers: Help us pick the award recipients or nominate your own winners (and losers) from today's first-day newspaper coverage.
P.S. See if you can identify the former award-winning Godbeat pro who returns to the beat to help with the big news.