Statement of Bishop Larry Silva regarding the Election of Pope Francis
March 13, 2013
I join all the people of Hawaii in congratulating our new Holy Father, Pope Francis! His election by the College of Cardinals was sooner than I expected, which is an indication that the Holy Spirit moved them to an early consensus that this is the one the Lord has chosen to be the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth. It is refreshing to know that he is from Latin America. The Catholic Church has had its major growth in the Southern Hemisphere for the last few decades, and Hispanic Catholics in the United States have been a major force in the Church’s growth in our own country. It is therefore very appropriate to have a Pope from the Southern Hemisphere and from a Hispanic country. For centuries missionaries were sent from Europe and North America to Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Now that the faith has waned in the Northern Hemisphere, we pray that this “missionary Pope” will bring a fresh perspective and energy to the New Evangelization. At the same time, I was very impressed that Pope Francis’ opening remarks focused on his role as Bishop of Rome and spoke directly to the people of his new diocese.
I must admit I was a little surprised that the Cardinals elected a Pope who is 76 years of age, when the bishops of the world are asked to submit their resignations from pastoral office at the age of 75. However, Pope Benedict XVI was elected at the age of 78 and gave eight energetic years to the service of the Church and the world as our Pope. I pray that Pope Francis will enjoy many years of good health and dedicated service to the Church as the Successor of Peter.
There is great hope in the name our new Holy Father has chosen. St. Francis was the most humble of people, whose preaching and example set the world on fire and continue to inspire us. He was sent by the Lord at a critical time in history to renew and rebuild the Church. We pray that Pope Francis will serve the Lord humbly and effectively by calling us all to the joyful task of renewal and self-sacrifice. We pledge him our prayers throughout his Petrine ministry. In the name of all the people of the Diocese of Honolulu I have sent him our congratulations and best wishes.