Having worked with Pope Francis I on the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Archbishop José Gomez enthusiastically welcomed the newly elected Holy Father.“I am very happy with the election of Pope Francis I,” the archbishop of Los Angeles stated in an early afternoon press conference March 13 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, within hours of the announcement in Rome. “For us as Catholics, this is a beautiful spiritual moment, a time of joy and thanksgiving — a time for prayer for the whole Church.”Archbishop Gomez — a native of Mexico — expressed joy at having a pope from the Western Hemisphere.“It is a beautiful sign to have a new Pope who is the first Pope from the Americas, from the New World,” he said. “The election of Pope Francis is a call for all of us to strive for holiness and to work to make our countries and our continents a ‘new world of faith.’” “I have had the privilege of knowing our new Holy Father through our work together on the Pontifical Commission for Latin America,” the archbishop added. “I look forward to seeing him and getting to know him better while I am in Rome next month.”He called the election “a great day, not only for Catholics, but for the whole world. The Pope is the living sign of the universality of God’s Church. And the Pope is a sign of Jesus Christ’s love for the world and for every person in every nation.”The new pope, he continued, “is a humble man who lives with simplicity and a desire for holiness. Our new Pope is a defender of the poor, a strong teacher, and a leader committed to renewal in the Church and the new evangelization of our world.”Dr. Cecilia González-Andrieu, assistant professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, joined in Archbishop Gomez’ invitation to pray for the new pope, and was delighted by his choice of name.“I think of John August Swanson's beautiful images of St. Francis of Assisi and how much Francis loved everything about the world, and how he is a symbol across cultures, races and even religions —that we were a community of ‘all,’” she said.“Francis had a very cosmic vision of God's entire creation as interconnected. In a world that needs so much healing the symbol of Francis of Assisi is an amazing and unifying image.”It is possible, González-Andrieu added, that Pope Francis could have also named himself after Francis Xavier, “the very great Spanish Jesuit, who likely named himself after the other Francis. Of course, Francisco Xavier was one of the greatest evangelizers in history, taking the Gospel literally to the very ends of the earth. That is also part of truly loving the world.”Either way, she said, “great lover of the planet or great lover of the Gospel, these two requirements of every Catholic are inextricably intertwined, and I hope to see our new Pope Francisco I be a beacon of both.”Jesuit Father Ron Schmidt, a documentary filmmaker with an office at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood (which is one of three parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese administered by the Jesuits), was struck by the new pope’s demeanor as he encountered the cheering throng in St. Peter’s Square.“When he came out [on the loggia], he had a certain humility — yet with a twinkle in his eye, very human,” said Father Schmidt. “He will bring a very deep Ignatian spirituality as pope, caring about people’s individual spiritual lives and bringing the Jesuit concerns of social justice and a preferential option for the poor.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0315/popegomez{/gallery}