New pope stirs campus discussion

Catholics were able to breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday when the almost month-long wait for a pope ended with the election of Pope Francis.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope on March 13 after cardinals spent two days in conclave in Rome. After choosing the name Francis – after Saint Francis of Assisi – he spoke to the 50,000 people awaiting his arrival in the Vatican Square, first asking them to pray for Pope Benedict, and then asking them to pray for him.

This introduction, which no pope has done before, is just one of the many firsts that Bergoglio brings to the papacy.

The Rev. Michael Kesicki, associate vice president of mission and ministry at Gannon University, said that Pope Francis is humble and simple.

“Humility is the only virtue that if we talk about it, we lose it,” Kesicki said. “This is a good message for any leader.”

Kesicki also noted the significance of the name Francis. “I don’t know why no one before has ever picked the name,” he said. “It’s a great name.”

He said Saint Francis loved the poor, and he lived his message of being close to the people and close to poverty. He said he expects that Pope Francis will fulfill his position in a similar way.

Senior political science major James Marsh, meanwhile, noted that a key factor regarding Pope Francis is his age. He noted that speculation before Francis’ election had concluded that they would elect a younger pope this time around.

“I think the fact that the cardinals did not hesitate to elect an older man reflects part of the great gift that Benedict XVI left to the Church,” Marsh said.

A final first that Pope Francis brings to the table is where he comes from. Amanda Green, a senior accounting major, noted that Francis is the first non-European pope, as he is from Argentina.

“Latin America has one of the greatest Catholic populations,” Green said, “so I am interested in how that will play into his papacy.”

With all of these firsts, Kesicki said he is interested to see how Francis proceeds as pope. He said that although he does not have direct contact with Gannon or most other Catholic universities, whoever is in the position does have an effect.

Kesicki cited Gannon’s mission to bring its students to encounter the world, and said that this is also Francis’ goal for Catholics. “If anything, in an immediate sense, it’s a good confirmation and it’s a challenge,” he said. “We always have to live up to what we say we are.”



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