Catholic cardinals elect new pope


A Catholic church downtown. Photo by Laurel Critchfield

Brett Stover

A Catholic church downtown. Photo by Laurel Critchfield
Sacred Heart, a Catholic church downtown. Photo by Laurel Critchfield
Around 1:00 p.m. today, the smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel turned white, signifying the election of a new pope. About an hour later, the Catholic Church announced that its new pontiff, the church’s 266th, was Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Bergoglio, who was given the name Francis, is from Argentina. This makes him the first pope in over 1,000 years not born in Europe. He is also the first pope ever to be born in the Americas.
“I think it’s a great reflection of where the culture of the Catholic Church is going,” RBHS teacher Angel Renick, a member of the Catholic Church, said. “I think it is also a great emphasis on how humble he is. He’s not very formal. He’s very much of the people, for the people. I think that’s a big difference between him and [Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI] because our last pope was very scholarly and bookish, and the new pope is very much one of the people. I think that’s going to make a very big impact on the church.”
However, Francis’ South American heritage may be overplayed by the media. His parents immigrated to Argentina from Italy, so some feel this change isn’t much of a deviation from the tradition of European pontiffs.
“I don’t think that it matters that much that he’s South American,” non-Catholic sophomore Ashwini Mantrala said, “as long as he follows all the rules of the Church.”
However many people, including President Obama, see this as more of a shift to Latin America. In a statement released today, Obama said that the choice of Francis “speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world.” He added that as a bishop Francis was a “champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us.”
Rep. John Boehner, who as Speaker of the House is the highest-ranking Catholic Republican in the United States, also issued a statement calling the choice of an Argentinian pontiff a “new milestone in the history of a faith that has endured for millennia.”
While this will likely not affect the daily lives of Catholics, many were happy to learn of the newly-elected pope.
“The new pope will surely be a great leader and pontiff,” Catholic sophomore Kristen Tarr said. “I know from the great celebration today that the followers of Catholicism will remain faithful to the pope and the Lord.”
By Brett Stover