Welcoming Non-European Pope

Published: 14 March 2013 By Claudia Balthazar

For the first time in 1,000 years, a non-European leader has been chosen to head the church. On Wednesday March 13, 2013, Cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, emerged as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, the first time a South American broke the glass ceiling.

The 76-year-old will serve as pope after Pope Benedict XVI resigned from his position last month due to his old age; the first to resign in the past 600 years. Pope Jorge now to be called Francis, served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998 and was created Cardinal in 2001. He was born in Buenos Aires from Italian immigrant parents.

Dr. Stanislao Pugliese, professor of history and Queensboro Unico Distinguished Professor of Italian Studies at Hofstra University said this marks, “A new chapter in the history of the Church.” He added, “It’s important for the international stature of the Church; first non-European in 1,000 years, first from Western Hemisphere and first from Latin America where the Roman Catholic Church has been losing members to evangelical Protestant churches for two generations.”

Tatiana Brown, Hofstra University sophomore said, “It’s about time. It’s where the Catholic Church is going. If it didn’t evolve with the moment, it could have lost a lot of potential worshippers.”

Many people are stating their opinions about an elected Pope from South America. Ernest Carmona, Graduate of John Jay Criminal Justice College and Head Teller of TD Bank said, “We finally have a voice…My grandmother always wanted to see someone of her culture in this position. Now the church is being diversified and that’s a good thing because we always push for diversity.”

Others are concerned about the roads that are being paved for future leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. “It shows that Catholicism is not just European. It’s South American. It’s Caribbean. It’s African,” said Bryanna Fabre, sophomore at New York University. “It’s a start of a pattern that would allow leaders from other places outside of Europe.”

Dr. Takashi Kanatsu, Associated Professor of Political Science (focused on Latin American and Asian Politics) at Hofstra University stated, “Latin America was known to have the largest Catholic population in the world…Also, Latin America started bringing something new to the traditional catholic church, exemplified by the Medellin Conference of CELAM in 1968, where the role of the Catholic, which was traditionally expected not to get involved in politics, changed to focus on social justice…In this sense, it was time that the Pope [was] elected from Latin America.”

He added, “On the other hand, Argentine Catholic church was known for its conservativeness historically and even considered a supporter of the bureaucratic authoritarian military regime in the 1970s to the early 1980s. Therefore, it may not be a dramatic departure from a conservative Catholic church of the past.”

Alex Pineda, sophomore at Hofstra University said, “It’s important and it shows how far the world has come but the most important part is that he’s the right person for the job, that he will fix the corruption in the Vatican.”

Published in Globa PenTorch: http://www.globalpentorch.net/pope.html

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