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 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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