Local Catholics praise choice of pope

March 16, 2013

The Catholic church made a historical decision Wednesday with the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope.

The first pope from the Americas (South) and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium has brought a new energy to the church.

He has chosen the name Pope Francis, and the 76-year-old son of Italian immigrants comes into his position amid uncertainty within the church following the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. But, judging by reaction from local Catholics, there is overwhelming confidence Francis is the right pontiff to lead the church into the future.

“I’m very excited that we got somebody from our side of the world,” said Thomas Lyssy, who runs the emergency food pantry at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church. “It’s going to energize the base. It’s always been somebody from the old world, and this is someone from the new world.”

Jan Sharkey sees Pope Francis as a humble man, something she believes magnifies his strength. “He lives very modestly. He takes public transportation,” she said. “Humility is something very important to our world.”

Austin Hoodentyle, an 18-year-old, was immediately taken in by the new pope’s opening speech.

“He took a second to ask for our prayers. That showed us how humble he is,” said Hoodentyle. “This is a normal kind of person accepting this position.”

Leo Wolf said he appreciates Pope Francis addressing the economic situation in the world.

“One thing he said was don’t take your money and come to his first mass. Take that money and share it with other people,” said Wolf.

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