Local leaders applaud choice of pope

For many on Wednesday afternoon, the quick selection of a new pope surprised quite a few, including Bishop George Murry of the Youngstown Diocese.

On Wednesday, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope, the first from the Americas, the first of the Jesuit order and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.

Murry, also of the Jesuit order, said he was delighted by the choice.

“I think it’s interesting that he chose the name Francis, because St. Francis (of Assisi) was a person who put aside all that had been given to him by his family, and embraced a life of poverty so that he could be closer to Jesus Christ,” Murry said.

Francis, the 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires, spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina and has shown a sense of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.

Murry said like many others he will learn more about Francis in the days ahead and how he has dealt with different situations.

”He mentioned that one of his goals is to evangelize the city of Rome. You can’t have a pope today who is not attuned to evangelization. He recognizes that, and coming from a background from South Americas where there have been a large numbers of Catholics who have drifted away from the church and become evangelicals, he is aware of what needs to be done to help promote the church through evangelization,” Murry said.

Murry said he never met Francis but does have friends who have.

”He has a reputation as being an excellent administrator and he also spends a lot of time teaching. He brings with him many characteristics of what people want in a pope today,” Murry said.

”The main things in this election is the newness of this,” he said. ”Not only do we have a new pope but we have one that comes from a completely different culture outside of Europe who brings a different perspective. We have reason to look forward to a fresh and exciting way of going forward as a church.”

The Rev. Bernard Schmalzried of St. Mary’s Church in Warren said while he didn’t know much about Francis when he was a cardinal, he believes the new pope is a good choice.

”Although I was surprised, he sounds like he will be a pretty good leader for the times we live in and is exactly the type of person we need,” Schmalzried said.

Schmalzried said he said he was impressed by Francis background of being there for the little people and knowing a lot about helping those who have faced poverty.

The Rev. Jeffrey Stealey, associate pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton of Warren, said at Wednesday evening Mass that he liked that the new pope chose the name Francis and showed great humility in his first speech. He led the congregation in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi following Mass to honor the new pope.

At a State of the School address Wednesday at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, many in attendance were talking of the selection.

JFK President Brian Sinchak said, ”This a beautiful opportunity for our church to be led by an accomplished scholar and a very humble and faithful man. In his work as cardinal, he has demonstrated incredible humility and a commitment to social justice and peace, and I believe our church can benefit from that wisdom.”

JFK Upper Campus Assistant Principal Jim Boyle said, ”He is kind of anti-establishment in a sense. He lives in an apartment, he cooks his own meals, takes the bus when he was in Buenos Aires and helped many poor people.”

Deacon Bob Mintus of Blessed John Paul II Parish said he was surprised by the selection.

“I think the new pope will have a little different focus with more outreach throughout the world. I am very hopeful and positive toward the future with this selection,” he said.

Michael Ronga, a junior at JFK who just returned from a mission trip to Kentucky, said he heard about the selection on Twitter.

”I was grateful that we could have someone from Argentina and I believe the first pope from South America. It will be wonderful to get fresh ideas and innovations from someone from that area,” he said.