The pontificate of Pope Francis will be one of new evangelization and one that will "reach out in new ways to laymen and laywomen," said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Anderson noted that already the pope has given the laity an "urgent call" in his first words, stressing the need for "a more active and intense shouldering of the works of charity."
The laity must "stand up and shoulder that responsibility, and I think we have a Holy Father who will lead us in that direction," he said in an interview with Catholic News Service.
He said the cardinals' election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope makes it seem as if they were focusing on retired Pope Benedict's 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).
Pope Francis has a "unique solidarity with the poor and those in need" that Anderson hopes will impact the Church, especially affluent Catholics in North America, to begin to have solidarity with those in poverty and in need of help.
"Pope Benedict told us in his encyclical that the Church is one big family and that no one should lack the necessities of life, so I hope with this new pope, Pope Francis, we will begin to live that out in even greater ways," he said.
Anderson said he could not help seeing parallels in the election of Pope Francis and the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978. When both were announced on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he said many people did not know much about them.
He noted that the pope from Eastern Europe, Pope John Paul, was able to have a "tremendous impact from behind the Iron Curtain for a whole continent of people."
In a similar way, he thinks Pope Francis will "usher in a huge renewal of Catholicism in the Western Hemisphere."