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Former Archbishop Of Philadelphia: Pope Francis ‘Is A Very Impressive Man’

By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pope Francis may be walking in “the shoes of the fisherman” but in his case, they’re black and not Benedict’s traditional red, signifying the earthly responsibilities of the church.

It’s simpler. Francis is speaking with his own voice.

Philadelphia’s former Archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, can hear it.

“We hope this life, this new beginning spreads, because the Pope, he’s speaking to the future. He’s a man of hope,” says Cardinal Rigali.

He spoke with Eyewitness News by satellite from Rome and revealed a rare insight into these first days with the new Pope Francis.

Rigali has shared five meals around the same table with the Pope and his brother Cardinals, where the mood is easy and cordial.

“He comes across as someone who is happy to be with the Cardinals. He joins in the conversation. He’s dynamic. He’s alive. He’s vivacious and it spreads around the table,” explains Cardinal Rigali.

Soon, that table will change.

With the flick of a light Friday, Pope Francis, a Jesuit who chose to live in a simple apartment in Argentina, saw his new home. The Papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace was unsealed.

“This is a very humble man, ” said Father Robert Dodaro, a Vatican analyst. “I think we’re all overwhelmed by his humility and modesty and utter sincerity.”

Still, the issues facing the world wide Catholic Church are overwhelming. Governance in the Vatican, Vatican leaks, the Vatican Bank and the priest sex abuse crisis have become more than inside-the-Church problems.

Critics have blamed Benedict XVI with not doing enough to fix the problems which have pulled the faithful away from the Church.

“I think he’ll want to be consulting with the cardinals,” said Father Dodaro. “I don’t think he’s going to be in their hip pocket either. I think this is a man who knows how to make up his own mind, knows how to govern, but wants to be collegial.”

With a standing ovation at the meeting of the Cardinals, the collegial embrace was visible.

Cardinal Rigali thinks that taking the name of Francis, in honor of the beloved St. Francis of Assisi, sends a strong message.

“The Pope has a tremendous love of the poor, a tremendous outreach to people in need, has a tremendous understanding and love for the youth,” said Cardinal Rigali. “Pope Francis wants to be an instrument of peace. I will say he is a very impressive man. ”

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