Francis I, pope of firsts, selected

March 21, 2013


Staff Reporter


The last few weeks have brought a few changes in tradition to the Roman Catholic Church. What began with the first voluntary resignation of a pope since 1294, ended with the coronation of a pope of many firsts, His Holiness Pope Francis.


He is the first pope of the Jesuit religious order, the first pope to take the name Francis and the first Pope from the Americas.


“I just knew it wouldn’t be a European,” said Father Frank Folino.


Folino, the pastor at Ruston’s St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, said he was shocked at the announcement of the new papal name.


“I nearly fell off the sofa,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, that he would do something so humbling to himself.


The pope is believed to have taken the name Francis after the famous St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for helping the poor and shunning materialism.

– Photo by Derek J. Amaya


Lauren Roberts, a freshman nursing major, said she noticed the pope’s immediate displays of modesty when he asked the people for their blessing.


“I liked that he didn’t immediately put himself above everybody else, that sense of humility is important for leaders of the Church,” she said.


Roberts said she has been waiting for the announcement since the resignation of the previous pope, Benedict XIV.


“We’ve had pope alarms set up,” she said. “I downloaded these apps, and when it finally went off, I was so excited.”


Roberts said he likes the choice of pope because he brings the best of both worlds since he is both intellectual and charitable.


“In the end, though, it’s not of us, it’s of God,” she said. “It’s higher than we are.”


Derek Warden, a senior political science major, said he was also excited about the choice of the new pope.


Warden said he has gone through a few denominations in his life, spending time in the Mormon Church and in Atheism, but said he found his true calling in Catholicism.


“I had to go through logical reasons to become religious,” he said.


Enticed by Pope John Paul II’s lenient views on evolution, Warden said he began to research the religion.


“It allowed participants to believe in evolution,” he said. “I converted for academia, and now we have a towering academic as pope.”


The excitement flowing through St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church might not be the same elsewhere.


The Student Secular Alliance (SSA), a group of students that base their meetings around secular and humanist thinking, met the news with mixed reactions. Some, like Andrew Touchet, a sophomore physics major, were slightly more optimistic than others.


Touchet spoke of the expanding diversity in the church that the election of a South American Pope represents.


“I was hoping for one of the African cardinals, actually, but it’ll be good to have some cultural diversity,” Touchet said.


His optimism stops there, however, as he said his interest in the Pope is only guided by his impact on political and social matters.


“He’s important, but not a necessity to my life,” Touchet said.


It is agreed by most parties, however, that the pope does represent change in the church.


Brother Mike Ward, a minister at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, ministered on the future of the church.


“The fact that the pope picked Francis’ name is huge,” he said. “It’s a new day for the Church.”


Email comments to jts040@latech.edu



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