Pope Francis displayed enormous humility when he stood on the balcony of the Vatican this week and broke tradition by asking the more than 150,000 spectators to pray for him and bless him before offering a blessing for them, said the Rev. Father Joseph Ejimofor of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Benton.
Pope Francis also declined to be elevated above the other cardinals in the ceremony and chose the name Francis, which has never been used by a pope before, in honor of St. Francis of Assissi, a lover of the poor.
This is in keeping with the newly elected pope's humble outlook, according to the parish priest.
Ejimofor briefly met Pope Francis — then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — years ago when Ejimofor was a student in Rome, but he said he has followed the archbishop's history in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Pope Francis chose to live a simple lifestyle, giving up his opulent home for an apartment and getting rid of his car and driver and riding the bus when he was archbishop, Ejimofor noted. He said he did this to identify with the common people.
Ejimofor said he believes Pope Francis never knew he was in the running for the papal office.
Although the media has emphasized the fact that Pope Francis is the first modern-day, non-European pope, Ejimofor, who is originally from Nigeria, does not consider the nation of origin important.
"It is not a quota system," he said. Popes are selected based on the person and their personality.
And Ejimofor said he considers Pope Francis to be a "moderate cardinal with a firm belief in the Catholic tradition."