Local priests offer glimpse of new pope's style

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 NEWS

khou.com

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 11:14 AM

HOUSTON -- The new pope’s election took a lot of people by surprise. Many had not heard of the cardinal before he was introduced as Pope Francis I on the balcony at the Vatican.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is not exactly a household name, even for priests.

"I needed to Google him and find out more about him," said Father Anthony Giampietro of the University of St. Thomas.

The name everyone does know is his papal name.

"So it's very fitting that he chose the name Francis,” said Father Giampietro. “Saint Francis is known for his humility, his closeness to the people.”

In fact, Bergoglio is known for riding Buenos Aires’ city buses to work.

Father Vincent Dulock of the Congregation of Saint Basil called it “unprecedented.”

“Most bishops have at least a chauffeur, and the fact that he cooks his own meals...I don't even cook my own meals,” said Father Dulock.

Bergoglio is the first pope from Latin America, where 40 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics reside.

Father Stephen B. Reynolds from St. Theresa’s in Sugar Land called it “a great thing for the church.”

“I'll be interested this weekend to see people's reactions at our Spanish masses,” said Father Reynolds.

It's seen as a move of inclusion in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis I is also the first Jesuit, which is an order with rigorous academic credentials. Jesuits have educated kings, operated universities such as Georgetown and high schools like Houston's Strake Jesuit.

“Nobody studies more than the Jesuits,” said Father Dulock.

So Catholics believe Pope Francis will bring both intellectual and pastoral strengths to the papacy.

But at age 76, is his age and health a weakness?

He lost a lung years ago.

Will he be able to relate to the younger Catholics?

“Age doesn’t really matter that much,” said Father Dulock.

What will Pope Francis bring?

“I’d like to see him bring simplicity to the papacy and less pomp and ceremony,” Father Dulock said.

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