Arizonans in Vatican City for election of pope

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

VATICAN CITY -- Phoenicians were among the sea of witnesses to history as white smoke emerged over Vatican City just after 7 p.m. Rome time indicating a new pope had been elected.

“All of a sudden the crowd just started erupting,” said Father John Muir of the Catholic Newman Center at ASU.

“I just started screaming with joy, and people around me were going really, really nuts. It was just really emotional, people were really emotional,” said Fr. Muir.

The decision to elect Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope Francis came just in time for Father Muir, who is returning to Phoenix on Thursday.

“I’m so thankful,” he said.  “ I thought, ‘why would God bring me here to Rome for three days just to fly back and watch it on TV in Phoenix!'"

ASU student Conner Spani who’s studying abroad also witnessed history in the making Wednesday. 

He and his friends jumped in a cab after receiving word of white smoke.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Spani who described huge crowds, representing all ages and all cultures.

“There were a lot of Argentinean flags,” said Spani.  He told 3TV what struck him the most: “The amount of people who were there, and the amount of happiness that seemed to come when he spoke; it was good to see,” said Spani.

“It seems like God has given the Catholic Church a simple, good man who’s going to embody our best values,” said Fr. Muir. 

“My impression is this is a humble, simple man. He asked all of us to ask God to bless him before he gave his blessing,” said Fr. Muir. “He’s not a showman, he’s a simple disciple who wants to do God’s will and wants to bring the light of the gospel to the world.”