Cardinal Wuerl: I don't think Bergoglio "had any idea" he'd be elected

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
CBS News

(CBS News) Among the 115 cardinals who voted at the conclave that elected Pope Francis was the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Wuerl. We spoke with Cardinal Wuerl earlier Wednesday and asked what it was like to be in that room.

CARDINAL WUERL: It was a very exciting time. We had chosen, for the first time the history of the Catholic Church, for the first time in its 2,000-year history, we had chosen a pope who comes from the Western hemisphere, who comes from what they refer to as the the New World, who comes from our part of the world.

It was so exciting, and just to know that this new chapter in the church is opening up, it was a joy. It was a great consolation and it was also a time of looking to the future -- it was a time of great hope.

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SCOTT PELLEY: Would it be fair to say that Cardinal Bergoglio was surprised?

CARDINAL WUERL: I don't think he went into the conclave in any way thinking that he was going to come out as pope.

I had -- when we celebrated mass this morning, which we do all of us together, we come celebrate it in the Pauline Chapel, he was next to me -- just at random you come in and sit down -- and he came in and sat down next to me. We were all just cardinals celebrating mass. I don't think he had any idea going into that conclave that he was going to come out the one dressed in white.

SCOTT PELLEY: What is the intention of what the cardinals have done today? What is the message you're sending to the world?

CARDINAL WUERL: I think when you look at the now Pope Francis, when you look at the new pope, what you see is a very, very pastoral person. I think the message that the College of Cardinals, the message that all of us were sending is a care for our people, a pastoral concern.

He's a loving, gentle person. He has a great history and reputation for his pastoral care, especially of the poor and the needy in Argentina, in Buenos Aires. And I think part of our desire was simply to make sure that the church stays focused on her spiritual mission and on the care of those who have so many needs.

  • Scott Pelley
    Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"