(JUNEAU) Wednesday March 13, 2013 

Reacting to this morning’s announcement of the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Holy Father of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholic, Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, Bishop Donald Kettler of Fairbanks and Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau joined together in giving thanks for the election of Pope Francis during the noon Mass at the downtown Cathedral in Juneau. The mid-morning announcement was greeted with the ringing of the Cathedral bells in Juneau. At the Mass for the new Pope at noon Wednesday, the three bishops and the congregation prayed that God would bless and guide the newly elected Pope and together sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving.

The three bishops are in Juneau this week for the annual meeting of the Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops and to meet with members of the administration and the legislature. Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, commented:

“This is exciting news which provides a fresh beginning for the Church, for us to have a pope from Latin America. We rejoice in the hope and the expectation that this first Pope from the Southern hemisphere brings us.”

Reflecting on the just concluded conclave, Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler noted that “I have felt deeply that the Holy Spirit has worked through the Cardinal-electors in selecting our new holy father, Francis. It is my prayer that Francis will bring the message of Jesus Christ from Argentina to the whole world.”

“The announcement of our new Holy Father, Francis,” said Juneau Bishop Edward J. Burns, “brings great rejoicing throughout the world. As we prayed for God’s grace and the descent of the Holy Spirit during the election process, we now ask God’s strength and grace for Francis as he begins his Petrine ministry.”

Because the election of Pope Francis has occurred just prior to Holy Week and Easter, none of the Alaska bishops plan to travel to Rome for his installation. All three bishops are looking forward to meeting with the new Holy Father in the future and would be honored if it was someday possible for him to visit the state of Alaska.

However, several dozen Alaska young men and women along with the three bishops are planning to travel this summer to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis.

(Photo above) The three Bishops of Alaska pictured while gathered in Anchorage for a recent Alaska Priests’ Convocation. From left to right: Bishop Donald Kettler, Fairbanks; Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Anchorage; Bishop Edward Burns, Juneau. Photo by Ron Nicholl, Anchorage.
(Photo above) The three Bishops of Alaska pictured while gathered in Anchorage for a recent Alaska Priests’ Convocation. From left to right: Bishop Donald Kettler, Fairbanks; Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Anchorage; Bishop Edward Burns, Juneau. Photo by Ron Nicholl, Anchorage.