SPOKANE, Wash. -- Bishop William Skylstad is the former leader of the Spokane Diocese and has been anticipating the Vatican’s announcement of a new pope.
The bishop was surprised the conclave came to a decision so quickly, but he believes with Pope Francis in front of the church, it’s headed in the right direction.
Bishop Skylstad was away from home when the ballots came in and the smoke went up in the air. Only two days into the conclave, he thought the decision may take longer.
“I was a bit surprised it happened so quickly because it’s a complicated role, but the Cardinals had in mind the type of person they wanted,” he said.
The bishop says two-thirds of the world’s Catholics live in the southern hemisphere. Choosing a pope from Argentina shows the church is ready to break out of tradition and break out of Europe, giving the world a sense of a global community.
“This is someone who obviously comes across as a humble person. The fact that he picked the name Francis [shows the] humble lifestyle-- very pastoral.”
Although the bishop didn’t witness the first Jesuit pope take to the balcony, he knows he’s capable of living up the challenge and leading the church into the future.
“I hope our expectations aren’t too high, because no one can live up to what expectations are for the Holy Father. It’s huge, and the job is complex.”
Bishop Skylstad says this is an historic moment in time and reminds believers the Holy Father can come from anywhere around the world.
He was surprised by the new pope’s age but says he must have the experience and knowhow to lead the church.