Pope Francis: a welcome surprise

Surprise was the single most used word this morning in St Peter's Square as Catholics learned more about Pope Francis.

Hardly anyone had expected the cardinals to reach their decision yesterday evening and many had expected a long conclave. Few expected to hear the name of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina when the new pontiff was announced.

Maltese Cardinal Prospero Grech confirmed that Cardinal Bergoglio had been the prime 'rival' to Cardinal Ratzinger eight years ago when the German was elected pontiff.

But since then his name faded away.

Reflecting on the choice of the new pontiff's name, Cardinal Grech said Pope Francis would be a reflection of simplicity following in the footsteps of St Francis.

It was a sentiment shared by Mgr John Kennedy, an official of the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who described the Pope's first gestures as a sign of humility.

"The way he greeted the crowd by a simple 'brothers and sisters, good evening' was amazing," Mgr Kennedy noted.

Despite his humility, Cardinal Bergoglio is well versed about the Roman Curia, having been part of various congregations.

"He is well-loved in Argentina for his pastoral work with the poor. He is known as Fr Jorge, despite being Archbishop of Buenos Aires but he also has a wider view of things, having obtained his phd in Germany and worked in Rome," Mgr Kennedy told

For Maltese journalist and lawyer Joe Mifsud, who was  in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis was a welcome surprise.

"He immediately endeared himself  through the manner how he asked people to pray on him rather then the other way round," Dr Mifsud said.

Meanwhile, in St Peter's Square preparations have already started for the installation of the Pope during an open-air Mass to be held on Tuesday morning, feast of St Joseph.

Kyle Bonello, Katrina Gauci and Andrea Bianco were among several Maltese at St Peter's Square last night.Kyle Bonello, Katrina Gauci and Andrea Bianco were among several Maltese at St Peter's Square last night.

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