WORSHIPERS and priests from the Catholic Church waited anxiously in the shadow of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh last night for the name of the new Pope to be announced.
Shortly after the white smoke was seen billowing from the chimney, Monsignor Michael Regan, administrator at the cathedral, sent a text to Father Jeremy Milne, assistant priest, telling him to “put the floodlights on the cathedral”.
Soon afterwards the two priests sat down with Father Piotr Czerwonka from Poland and Ian Murray, Bishop Emeritus for Argyll and the Islands, in the Cathedral House in York Place, broke open a bottle of champagne and gathered round the television awaiting to hear who had been appointed Pope.
When the announcement was made Monsignor Regan’s first, surprised and delighted, reaction was “He’s a Jesuit!, a South American Jesuit! Aye!” The priests then stood up, raised their crystal glasses and toasted the new Pope saying “God bless the Holy Father”.
Father Milne said: “I didn’t think for a moment they’d go for a South American. He’s got a good track record.”
When the Pope’s new name of Francis was announced, the priests beamed with happiness. Monsignor Regan said the name could be sending out a significant message.
“When St Francis of Assisi had his vision from God it was to rebuild the Church. I just wonder if that’s why he’s chosen that name.”
Bishop Murray, 80, noticing the Pope Francis’s age, said: “That’s surprising. It’s an issue all right. I mean, he’s not going to live for 100 years.”
Earlier, a handful of people had gathered outside the cathedral waiting for news from the Vatican.
Among them was Veronica Coates, 21, a fourth-year student at the University of Edinburgh, who said she hoped the new Pope would keep to traditional Catholic values, set a new tone and engage with young people.
“I’m so excited. Students at the Catholic Union in George Square have been saying masses for the past couple of days.”
Her friend Chris Loftus, 24, added: “I’ve been checking my smartphone for the name. It’s a really historic moment.”