Ranchi, March 14: Pope Francis is a “humble and simple man”, Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo said, sounding happy and relieved that a successor to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had finally been chosen.
“God has done his work,” the cardinal told The Telegraph over phone, the day after the papal conclave at Vatican City.
This evening around 9.30pm IST (5pm Central European Time), Toppo will be among the 115 Cardinals to attend the Sistine Chapel mass led by Pope Francis, the first pontiff born outside Europe in 1,300 years. He will also attend the meeting of the new pontiff with all the Cardinals scheduled tomorrow.
Toppo and 114 other cardinals — from North and Latin Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania — were closeted at the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, since March 12 for deliberations to choose the successor to Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to resign voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.
It took five ballots spread over two days to elect Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope. According to norms, a two-thirds majority or 77 votes is needed for outright victory.
“All the Cardinals, including myself, left the confines of Sistine Chapel late in the evening on March 13. At 10.30pm, or 2.30am IST, I reached the nunnery where I am staying at the Vatican. I am bound by an oath of secrecy not to divulge what transpired within the confines of the chapel,” Toppo said.
On Pope Francis, he said: “Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, has made history by becoming the first Jesuit and first Latin American priest to be elected to the papal office. He is a simple man, a humble man.”
Pope Francis will officially take charge of his post on March 19 with a mass at St Peter’s Square. The new Pope speaks Spanish, English, German, French, Italian and some Portuguese.
“Once the official coronation is over, I will leave for Ranchi,” said Toppo. “In 2005, I could not attend the coronation of Pope Benedict due to urgent work in Ranchi. This time, I hope to fulfil my dream of witnessing the coronation and the St Peter’s Square mass,” he added.