Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 13, 2013

Pope Francis elected|Choice of Pope Francis gets strong local reaction

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Local Catholics seem genuinely excited about the election of Borgoglio, and used similar words to describe him. 

"He seems humble and a people's pope," Redman said.

"He is very humble, a pope of the people," Deacon Tarrana said, as he talked about how as a cardinal Borgoglio used to ride buses with the common people.

Then he smiled and said, "I'm just excited. It's just a great day to be Catholic!"

Particularly for Latin Americans, who number 40 percent of the world's Catholics but have long been underrepresented in the church leadership. On Wednesday, drivers honked their horns in the streets of Buenos Aires and television announcers screamed with elation at the news.

"It's a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait," said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar at the St. Francis of Assisi church in the colonial Old San Juan district in Puerto Rico. "Everyone from Canada down to Patagonia is going to feel blessed."

Closer to home, Carol Stier, a Catholic from North Tonawanda, said, "I'm thrilled he's from South America because it has almost half the Catholics in the world. He understands the third world." 

The new pontiff brings a common touch. The son of middle-class Italian immigrants, he denied himself the luxuries that previous cardinals in Buenos Aires enjoyed. He lived in a simple apartment, often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited slums that ring Argentina's capital.

He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

"As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years — that in each other, we see the face of God," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

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