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Local Catholic Community Weighs in On New Pope

Conclave of Cardinals made the right choice, say local pastors.

Everything about the election and introduction of the new Pope on Wednesday indicated a change of thinking for the Catholic Church.

San Mateo County pastors and laymen alike were struck by the symbolism of his chosen name, his choice of garment and how he presented himself to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica.

“It was a powerful image to see him bow his head,” St. Andrews’ pastor Piers Lahey said. “It spoke to being the humble, holy man he is, that he asked for a blessing from the 110,000 people at the square.”

To some, the election of Argentina Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope was a surprise. For others, it seemed the only sensible thing to do.

“When I read through all the bios, I had him at the top of my list,” San Carlos resident and Serra High Admissions Counselor Randy Vogel said.

The new leader, who chose the name Pope Francis, is the first Latin American ever to become Roman Pontiff, and the first Jesuit.

“They say this was a revolutionary kind of election,” said Lahey, who served at the Church of the Good Shepard in Pacifica for 14 years, and for 10 months at St. Charles, before taking over at St. Andrew’s in Daly City last July.

“When you look at the history of the church, you might see that Jesuits and Franciscans have not liked each other very much,” Lahey said. “Perhaps taking the name of Francis, as a Jesuit, means he may be a kind of reconciler.”

Father Lahey also felt taking the name of Francis reflects the story in the life of St. Francis, who heard God telling him to rebuild his church.

“It seems like a fitting image,” Lahey said. “It’s a wonderful choice to call himself Francis.”

Father Diarmuid Casey at St. Dunstan’s in Millbrae was pleased with the choice as well, saying that beginning with a prayer was very significant.

“He seems to be a very holy man,” Casey said. “With the very disturbing sexual abuse thing, we need a man who has the courage to take that on. We need his leadership in delicate areas.”

Bergoglio was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave. More than an hour passed when Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal-deacon, appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter’s basilica to declare, in a traditional announcement, “Habemus papam!” (We have a Pope)

“When we first saw him, we were struck by how much he looked like John Paul I, who lived in the papacy a month before dying in his sleep,” Lahey said. “He wore a simple, John Paul cassock, a reflection of his humility. That was no accident. He was making a statement.”

By most analysis, the conclave got it right. A son of Italian immigrants, Pope Francis understands that heritage.

“The church is world wide,” Lahey said. “We are glad he is from a Spanish speaking country. There has been a lot conflict and crisis in the church and we were hoping for a Pope who would be a kind of healer, able to build bridges and bring people together.”

“There is some sense that Latin-American voices will be heard in the church,” Casey said. “He has a reputation for holiness.”

The new Pope is well acquainted with the Vatican. At the time of his election to the papacy he was a member of the Congregations for Divine Worship, the Clergy, and Religious; the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

“There is a tremendous Catholic following in Argentina,” Vogel said. “I think this reinforces that the Catholic Church is world wide and not centered in Rome.”

“The NDNU community certainly welcomes the decision of the college of cardinals to elevate to the papacy  the first ever person from Latin America,” Norte Dame de Namur President Dr. Judith Maxwell Greig said in a statement. “Hispanics represent about 40 percent of the Catholic Church worldwide and, as a Hispanic Serving Institution as well as a Catholic one, we recognize the significance this election holds for both the Church and the greater society.  We look forward to learning more about Pope Francis, and we all pray that God grants him the wisdom to lead the church wisely in these difficult times.”

 

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Bren March 14, 2013 at 08:03 PM
All this talk about a change in thinking or direction sounds very nice, but it's too little, too late. I'll begin to have a tiny shred of respect for this church when it opens up ALL of its records regarding child sexual abuse by priests and is completely transparent in how it handles those charges. Naturally, that will never happen.
crestmoor resident March 14, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I have to admit, that I am excited with the new Pope. He seems to be a kind and simple man. He is going to have a lot of problems to deal with, but the world of the Vatican has always been mired in controversy. But, I'm going to choose to have faith that perhaps Pope Francis is going to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Bren March 14, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Is he going to change the church's position on birth control and homosexuality? If not, he has zero integrity.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) March 14, 2013 at 08:51 PM
That's a great question, Bren. The question I have is: What does being a Jesuit really mean? Does that mean he's going to focus on creating programs that will provide resources for people in financially unstable situations?
Claire Karoly Ard March 14, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Bren - highly unlikely on the homosexuality front - he's been extremely anti-gay marriage in the past, calling it a "destructive attack on God's plan." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/pope-francis-gay-marriage-anti_n_2869221.html
Jo Tog March 15, 2013 at 02:26 AM
This is a man that bowed before a person of aids and washed his feet. I don't think majority here would ever do that. He is a man that cares deeply for the poor. He is against homosexuality and abortion. He teaches us how to be more charitable in our communities, help one another. He walks his talk.
Bren March 15, 2013 at 03:20 AM
That is so sad.
Sharron March 15, 2013 at 04:59 AM
He will not change the stance on gay marriage, abortion or birth control. These are at the core of Catholic Church. This does not mean he hates or dislikes homosexuals and that he hates anyone who has had an abortion. It is all about forgiveness and repenting for what we have done.
Bren March 15, 2013 at 05:08 AM
These are at the core of the Catholic Church, Sharron? Not Jesus and His teachings (which, by the way, never mentioned homosexuality, abortion, or birth control)? Wow, that's really sad.
Jo Tog March 15, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Maybe those were not the issues Jesus had to deal with. Remember, people did not live that long and fighting to stay alive, fighting to have rights, fighting to take care one another is what Jesus did.
Bren March 15, 2013 at 08:39 PM
But given that He did not address those issues, it take a lot of hubris for the church to assume it not only knows what His opinion was, but that it also speaks for Him in these matters. Given that He was said to be omniscient, you'd think He would have sounded off on these topics if they were such deal-breakers in His mind.
Mike March 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Bren, in regards to the issue of child abuse millions of practicing Catholics and thousands of Catholic Clergy, nuns, and sisters would agree with you,it is unacceptable and in complete disagreement with the teachings of the church. There is no excuse for what has happened and there can be no acceptance of any further abuse, especially abuse of the innocent. Unfortunately, the entire issue is not just a Catholic Church experience. I understand that there was a study performed that showed that less than 1/2 of 1% of Catholic Clergy was actually directly involved in the disgusting act, and that the failure to address the issue was caused by a failure of the Bishops take action. If that study is correct that would mean that there is less of a problem in the Catholic Church than what there is in other religious denominations. Still a major problem and of course a very disturbing one but, if the study is true it would appear that one group may have gotten more attention than the another based on the number of incidens vs. the frequency of incidents. Zero tolerance is what tey all need to have.
Bren March 23, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Mike, the Catholic Church has gotten more attention than other denominations not because Catholic priests commit more sex crimes than other clergy, but because the Catholic Church as an institution completely fell down on the job and betrayed everybody's trust by failing to protect children and victims and engaging in a massive, criminal coverup. The Catholic Church has proved itself to be no better than Penn State by making it abundantly clear that its top priority is to protect itself at all costs. I am a person of Irish Catholic descent, and I am very grateful that I was not raised Catholic, because if I was, I would have to make the difficult decision right now of renouncing the Catholic Church. And that is something I call upon all Catholics to do. There are plenty of other denominations out there with almost identical beliefs. There is no reason for anybody to tithe one more dime to this criminal organization.
Mike March 23, 2013 at 01:03 AM
I think that Bren’s question has already been ansered. The Roman Catholic Church's position on homosexuality is simple. Much like sex outside of marriage homosexuality is considered a sin and, it has been that way for 2,014 years. As for birth control I would be very surprised if we saw any change there as well. In regards to seeing a change in the church’s position on same sex marriage, as long as marriage is considered to be a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church you will NEVER see it embraced or accepted by the church. We need to remember the Roman Catholic Curch is a 2,000 plus year old faith based establishment based on biblical research of the prophets and the teachings of the son of God by church “scolars” and the degree of wiggle room one has is extremely narrow. Adherence to such doctrine where they believe the teachings of Christ re concerned is exactly what they believe provides the church with integrity.
Mike March 23, 2013 at 01:09 AM
You are right, especially where the sacrament of marriage is concerned. Many people do not get that because they thing that religioud faith should change to suit their needs or that institutions such as a church must change with th etimes to fit the desires of the followers. That is just not the way faith works is it. As for forgiveness and repenting, isn't that exactly what got the church into trouble where the abuse scandals are concerned?
Bren March 23, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Mike, with all due respect, I gotta say that when I read your comments explaining the church's position on homosexuality, gay marriage, and birth control, I'm seeing a couple of logical fallacies. Specifically, the fallacies known as "appeal to antiquity" and "appeal to authority." I'm not saying you are engaging in those fallacies, necessarily, because you are, after all, just describing what the church's position is. What I'm saying is that the church's defense of its position rests heavily on those two fallacies, and that is a very shaky foundation to build anything on. Regarding your other comment... "Many people do not get that because they thing that religioud faith should change to suit their needs or that institutions such as a church must change with th etimes to fit the desires of the followers. That is just not the way faith works is it." ...I could not disagree more. A dogma that is rigid and unchanging is like a petrified tree. It can not bear fruit, nor sustain its followers. To speak disparagingly of people expecting the church to "change to suit their needs" or "change with the times" is to trivialize the very real suffering which the church's current policies have visited upon untold multitudes. How many gay teenagers growing up in rigid religious households have to kill themselves before the church will change? How many more women need to have their lives ruined by unwanted pregnancies before the church will change?
Mike March 23, 2013 at 06:06 PM
As we know the Roman Catholic Church is a huge institution with millions of followers. By not being raised in the church one may think that your knowledge is limited to what you’ve experienced or observed has formed an opinion absent the benefit of exposure to the feedback of clergy, or other religious with-in the institution. Therefore, much like the strong supporters of the church your opinions may be bias. Regardless, you’re right the church failed to meet the expectations that everyone has but, is not meeting expectations that uncommon. How often do institutions or even people accomplish such things? The sex abuse cases are the results of the poor judgment of various Bishops. They should not have ignored either the criminal or the moral wrongs that were committed. Especially while denouncing homosexual acts or other personal moral issues as being a “sin”. By doing that an ever greater wrong was committed. The Roman Catholic Church may have had more frequencies of abuse but, based on the size of the church compared to other denominations that would be statically expected. What the study I mentioned shows is the frequencies in which abuse occurs is less frequent in the Roman Catholic Church than other “main stream” religious institutions. Not acceptable, but, why is the light shining only on one as opposed to other institutions where such behavior is more common place?
Mike March 23, 2013 at 06:39 PM
So, the church should change its position because of a Logic vs. faith situation. It is a religious institution based on over 2,000 years of adherence to teachings that are derived from biblical study. I don’t see it happening. In fact the very reason that we have so many Christian religious sects is because those sects left the original Roman Catholic Church because they disagreed with restrictions etc. You speak of homosexual teenagers committing suicide and blame the church's practices. I think they commit suicide because of a failure to achieve one of the most basic human needs, to be accepted or to feel loved and that cannot be something that falls on the head of any one institution, person, or group. I understand the church doesn’t condemn the desire but does condemn the act. Now that may sound like double talk, but as human beings we have a higher degree of intelligence and control than a dog. So, the appropriate question may be, are we an advanced species or are we just like wild or domestic animals? Also interesting is that scientifically we recognize that a plant‘s life begins when the seed is planted and a human’s life begins at a different stage in time. As for unwanted pregnancies how do would you suggest they be avoided. I would suggest two ways one is one is in disagreement with the church (birth control) and the other in disagreement with desire (control yourself).
Jo Tog March 23, 2013 at 06:51 PM
There is 1.2 Billion Catholics. Catholics have done more good in this world than the likes of a person like Bren. Bren focuses his attentions on the negative of a small percentage of gay priests who should of never been allowed to become priests. With that said , hopefully, Pope Francis will purge the institution of all gay men.
Jo Tog March 23, 2013 at 06:53 PM
There are many different christian religions. Bren, I believe you could find one that is inline with your thinking. God Speed.
Bren March 23, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Jo Tog 11:51 am on Saturday, March 23, 2013 There is 1.2 Billion Catholics. Catholics have done more good in this world than the likes of a person like Bren. Bren focuses his attentions on the negative of a small percentage of gay priests who should of never been allowed to become priests. With that said , hopefully, Pope Francis will purge the institution of all gay men. ------------------------------------------------------------- Wow, you are such a disgusting troll! If you knew anything at all, if you ever bothered to actually educate yourself about pedophilia, you would know that the vast majority of child molesters who commit male-on-male crimes are men who live heterosexual lifestyles and are culturally identified as heterosexuals. The data has shown, time and again, that gay men are not even a little bit more likely to molest children than straight men. In fact, it is straight men who are statistically more likely to molest children. But you don't deal in hard data or statistics, do you Jo Tog? No, you only deal in bigotry and assumptions. If I was a Christian, I would pray for you.
Bren March 23, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Mike, you are very correct about me having a bias, but let me just say that I want to be very clear about one thing: Anti-Catholicism is a form of religious and cultural bigotry, just like anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. I fully acknowledge that for anybody who has ever been on the receiving end of anti-Catholic bigotry, my comments could be very disturbing and hurtful. My anger is for the church as an organization, and I wish to state unequivocally that I do not believe the failings of that organization reflect on the 1.2 billion Catholics in this world. Indeed, it has been my observation that the rank and file of the Catholic community are often far more enlightened than the church hierarchy.
Bren March 23, 2013 at 08:46 PM
As to your question about why the Catholic church is getting so much attention for its sex abuse scandal, it's important to remember that this is one of the biggest, oldest churches in existence. When some backwater evangelist sexually abuses members of his flock, that's not going to be such a headline-grabbing story, because the chances are he runs an independent church organization that doesn't have many bureaucratic ties or a clear-cut chain of command that links it to an international church organization. So it's a smaller scandal, likely to get less press, and be more quickly forgotten.
Bren April 20, 2013 at 06:06 AM
Jo Tog 9:48 pm on Friday, April 19, 2013 There is 1.2 Billion Catholics. Catholics have done more good in this world than the likes of a person like Bren. Bren focuses his attentions on the negative of a small percentage of gay priests who should of never been allowed to become priests. With that said , hopefully, Pope Francis will purge the institution of all gay men. ------------------------------------------------------ You posted that exact, same hate speech on March 23, Jo Tog. Why are you repeating yourself?
Bren April 20, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Jo Tog 9:48 pm on Friday, April 19, 2013 There are many different christian religions. Bren, I believe you could find one that is inline with your thinking. God Speed. ---------------------------------------------- Jo Tog, why don't you respect Christianity enough to capitalize the word "Christian"?

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