(KMTR) - After the white smoke emerged, millions of people tuned into the live coverage, waiting for the decision to be revealed. Local Catholic priest Father Ron Nelson, was on the edge of his seat.
The last time a new pope was chosen Father Ron was actually in Rome, waiting among thousands of others as Pope Benedict was revealed for the first time. Today, the priest waited inside the office at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Eugene, the parish over which he presides.
As he watched the live stream from Vatican City, he said he could feel all the emotions from eight years ago coming back to him: anxiousness, nervousness, but mostly excitment. He says the pope has a unique and difficult position in the world and one of his most important duties is to be the church's voice.
"The church is relevant in the world and the church really does have a role in forming and shaping our society, especially as a moral authority that needs to be there,” says Father Ron.
Reflecting on Pope Benedict's resignation, Father Ron said he was surprised but considered it a very humble choice. With the responsibility that comes with the position, he says the pope has to feel one hundred percent confident he can fulfill the position. According to Father Ron, the new pope has some serious challenges ahead.
"I know the media tended to focus on the priest abuse scandal and all of that, but I don't see that s the biggest challenge. I think the biggest challenge is the secularism,” says Father Ron. “It's about promoting the Gospel, the new evangelization. That's the biggest challenge.”
Father Ron had to prepare for Mass Wednesday, so he missed the live reveal, but on the phone later the same day, he said he's very excited about Pope Francis.
He says many of the Hispanic volunteers at St. Mary's were very emotionally moved to hear that the new pope is from Argentina. He looks forward to seeing how Pope Francis I's background frames his leadership of the church.