Newly minted Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from the New World, will be invited to Orange County for the dedication of Christ Cathedral, the former Crystal Cathedral, according to Bishop Kevin Vann.
In Orange County, where more than 30 percent of Catholics are Hispanic, excitement over the first South American pope is palpable, Vann told Patch on Wednesday.
When the conclave of cardinals chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Vann and about 80 other people were at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel, planning for the Diocese of Orange's new cathedral.
“In the midst of all this, somebody said, ‘Hey there is white smoke,’ and everybody started applauding. We watched it live-streaming like we were in St Peter’s Square. I think there is a lot of energy, a lot of joy and anticipation too,” Vann said. “When we dedicate the Christ Cathedral, I will send him an invitation to come.”
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Vann, who has never met Pope Francis, said the Jesuit from Buenos Aires has a reputation for humility and simple living. And because the new pontiff is a native Spanish speaker, he would be able to connect with many in Orange County, Vann added.
“I think there would be great identification of our Hispanic brothers and sisters here with Pope Francis,” Vann said. “I think it shows the universal dimension of the family of God, which is certainly evident here in Orange County with all the ethnic groups we have.”
Media analysts have described the new pope as a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus, cooks his own meals and lives humbly. Although some have labeled Francis a theological conservative, Vann rejected attempts to pigeonhole the church's new leader.
“I try to remind myself when we talk about these realities to try not to use the words liberal or conservative because that is, I think, limiting,” said Vann. “He is truly Catholic. When you are Catholic or a pastor, you have to bring the good news to everybody.”
Vann hopes to travel to Rome to meet Francis later this year. On Saturday, he will hold an 8:15 a.m. Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange to pray for the new pope. He also plans to share his thoughts on the church's decision on his blog.
“I think the Lord has opened a new chapter for the life of the universal church and our local church,” Vann said. “I think [Pope Francis] shows us humility. I think he shows us how to live a simple life. Those are virtues I think we can look forward to to help all of us.”