Local leaders pleased with new pope

by TaLeiza Calloway – news@thenewsleaders.com

The world watched and waited as a new pope was selected. Local faith leaders in St. Joseph and beyond watched as well and are pleased with the choice.

The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), chose Francis as his pontical name. He is the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The 76-year-old is also the first non-European pope to serve in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.

Father Jerome Tupa, OSB, is the pastor of the Church of St. Joseph. He said he is excited about the arrival of Pope Francis.

“I think it’s a delightful choice for the universal church,” Tupa said. “He seems to be warm and has some spontaneity to him, which is kind of different from the former pope.”

Tupa said he was a bit surprised by the choice but views it as a great opportunity not only for the United States but for Argentina. In conversations with some parishioners, he said they too share his excitement.

“At the parish here, we have prayed for him, and we look forward to continuing to work as a community of prayer and of service,” Tupa said

While the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI was a shock, Tupa says he gives him credit for the courage to do so. Father Blane Wasnie, OSB, is pastor of the Church of St. Benedict in Avon. He, too, watched the selection of the new pope with anticipation and commends the former pope’s courage to end his reign.

“I’m very thrilled we have a pastoral leader of the entire church,” Wasnie said. “Pope Francis has a lot of experience with the church of the poor. We can be more conscious of the poor and learn to live the gospel more simply and more really. He can teach us how to live more simply.”

Wasnie said there is a sense of relief with new leadership in place but says he respects Pope Benedict XVI for standing up and telling the world why he needed to retire. He said it sets a great precedent for those in ministry.

Already Pope Francis is the subject of a lot of historical “firsts,” and Wasnie hopes other “firsts” will follow.

“My hope is he will decentralize and respect the autonomy of the conferences of bishops, work together with them on a more equal basis,” Wasnie said. “The Second Vatican Council encourages this. This last 30 years we’ve gotten away from that. That would be a great gift to the church.”

TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.
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