Local Catholics happy to welcome new pope

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | March 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
A group of Catholics storms the Lower Quad at the University of St. Thomas March 13, cheering and waving Vatican City flags and an American flag. Rosie Murphy/TommieMedia

A group of Catholics storms the Lower Quad at the University of St. Thomas March 13, cheering and waving Vatican City flags and an American flag. Rosie Murphy/TommieMedia

As his flight to Chicago was boarding on the afternoon of March 13, Jesuit Father Tim Manatt, president of Min­neapolis-based Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, was glued to the waiting area monitor showing a still-empty papal balcony before the announcement of the new pope.

At last call, there was still no pope, so he reluctantly boarded the plane.

A few minutes before takeoff, the news arrived on Father Manatt’s cell phone.

“There I was captive in a plane when the door has been closed and I had no way of communicating with the outside world, but it was a feeling of joy that I felt head to toe,” he said.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis will benefit from the order’s emphasis on education and experience in areas where the Church is growing. His training in listening with the heart and mind will also help him, he said.

“I think that a Jesuit is meant to have ears and a heart that are well trained to listen, and I believe and I trust that the impact of that will be very significant in having Francis, who is trained as a Jesuit in the role of shepherd of the Church to listen well and to listen with your heart and your head and to be well disposed to the positive interpretations of the words of your neighbor,” Father Manatt said.

Students at Cristo Rey, 70 percent of whom are Latino, are excited about the new pope from Argentina — and even more so because he’s from the same country as soccer superstar Lionel Messi, Father Manatt said. The school is working to enhance its Jesuit identity and the election of a new Jesuit pope will help with that, he said.

Jesuit Father Tom Lawler, provincial of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus, which includes Minnesota, said the  pope serves as a “bridge-builder.”

“I’m proud in the sense that our Society of Jesus can be seen as a society that’s helping to build some bridges within the Church and across the world to other faiths and other peoples,” he said. “I’m proud that charism will now have more influence around the world through his ministry as pope.”

And, he added, “I will pray for him. I know my brother Jesuits around the world will certainly be praying for him in a special way because he’s one of our own.”

Franciscan values

Junior seminarian Nathaniel  Binversie celebrates in the Lower Quad at the sign of white smoke, yelling to others “We have a pope!” Binversie waved the Vatican flag while roller blading through the middle of campus. Caroline Rode / TommieMedia

Junior seminarian Nathaniel Binversie celebrates in the Lower Quad at the sign of white smoke, yelling to others “We have a pope!” Binversie waved the Vatican flag while roller blading through the middle of campus. Caroline Rode / TommieMedia

When Conventual Franciscan Father Steven McMi­chael heard the name “Francis” announced, he thought that Capuchin Franciscan Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston had been chosen as pope.

But as he’s learned about the new Jesuit pope, Father McMichael, an associate professor at the University of St. Thomas, said “he represents a dedication to the poor and suffering which are the center values of Franciscans.”

The new pope is less formal and brings a different tone to the papacy, he said. “He seems like a person who is not frightened to show his personality.”

Father McMichael noted that St. Ignatius was inspired by St. Francis and that there has been learning between the orders.

Don Briel, director of the University of St. Thomas’ Center for Catholic Studies, said he was surprised that Pope Francis was chosen — in part because he is 76 — but not at the fact that he is South American.

Because he wasn’t a leading candidate focused on specific tendencies toward reforming the Roman curia or introducing new evangelization initiatives, and because he is older, Pope Francis may have been a compromise candidate, Briel said.

“It wasn’t clear what individual might combine all of these emphases with the right tension to secure them, and the leading candidates clearly were identified with one or the other of those tendencies rather than all of them,” he said.

Renewing the church

Jim Kolar said he was impressed that the new pope asked the faithful to pray over him before extending his blessing over them.

“My hope is that he would continue Benedict XVI and John Paul II in terms of the new evangelization and the focus on renewing the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of the new movements and the right kind of openness to engage the modern world while preserving the integrity of the Gospel and the deposit of faith,” said Kolar, founder of the Community of Christ the Redeemer, a Catholic lay community based in West St. Paul.

It may be a challenge for Pope Francis to adjust to the Vatican, but it is good that he represents another part of the world and a different cultural experience, he said.

Even while watching the announcement in a small office packed with 25 of her excited NET Ministries co-workers, Molly Gallagher said seeing the new pope gave her a feeling of peace.

“He seems to be simple and humble for what the Lord has placed on his shoulders. I’m looking forward to seeing how he will lead us closer to Christ,” she said.

The name Francis might be new, but the pope’s simplicity seems to indicate that his emulation of the saint isn’t.

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Category: Welcome Pope Francis