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Northwest Indiana faithful pleased with choice of cardinals

Quotes from Pope Francis

“We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out on to the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded church that goes out on to the streets and a sick, withdrawn church, I would definitely choose the first one.”

“In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptise the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!”

“An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity, is this: look at the peacock; it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth … Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.”

“Let’s not be naive: this isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan.” (On an Argentinian government gay marriage bill)

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Updated: April 15, 2013 11:30AM



Catholics across Northwest Indiana rejoiced Wednesday at the naming of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, as the new pontiff.

The new 76-year-old pope, who took the name Francis I, was elected on the fifth ballot by the conclave of 115 cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican. He’s the 266th pontiff in the church’s 2,000-year history and the first non-European leader in 1,000 years.

“We’re asking all the parishes to pray for the new pope and to celebrate a Mass asking God’s blessings upon him,” said Bishop Dale Melczek, leader of the Diocese of Gary.

Melczek and other diocesan employees watched the scene at St. Peter’s Square on a small television at their Merrillville office.

“I am overjoyed that the cardinals selected a man known for his deep prayer, his past sensitivity, great intellect and his personal modesty and humility,” Melczek said.

Melczek said he hasn’t met Francis, who replaces Benedict, the first priest in 600 years to abdicate.

“He wasn’t on the radar screen of the media, but I understand he was second on all the ballots at the last conclave so he was on the radar screen of the cardinals.”

Melczek said the new pope, a Jesuit priest originally trained as a chemist, has a fresh world vision and the ability to communicate the Gospel to cultures across the world.

While recent polls showed American Catholics preferred a younger, reform-minded pope, Melczek said Pope Francis would remain true to the values of the Gospel.

“He’s not going to compromise at all to please the whims of the public. That’s not what we as a church are called to do. I’m sure he’ll be a spoken defender of right to life from womb to tomb.”

Rev. Stephen Gibson of St. Mary Catholic Church flew to Rome Tuesday night to watch the historic moment unfold.

Gibson’s church in East Chicago serves a large group of Hispanics in the area, and he wrote that the selection of a pope from South America “is a profound blessing for the Spnaish-speaking.” It also helps bring one of the Catholic Church’s largest areas of evangelization to the rest of the world, he said.

“Just as God asked St. Francis to rebuild his church, so we have a new pope with the same vision for a new age in the history of salvation,” he said.

The son of Italian immigrant parents who was raised in Buenos Aires, Francis formerly led the church’s Jesuit order.

Melczek said Francis lived humbly in an apartment in Buenos Aires, cooked his own meals, and took the bus to work.

He said the new pope took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, a legendary Italian friar known for his humility and simplicity.

Maryann Stewart, a volunteer at the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, said Bergoglio’s election was a wonderful surprise.

“There are more Catholics in South America, and he’s an intellectual,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, he’ll bring some new, fresh ideas to the Catholic Church, particularly allowing women to serve as priests and letting priests marry.”

Stewart had favored Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley, who took the helm of the troubled archdiocese in the wake of the sex abuse crisis, but she said the church was unlikely to elect an American pope.

Volunteer Betty Jackowski was pleased the process went fairly quickly, taking less than 24 hours since the cardinals entered the conclave.

“I didn’t really have a favorite,” she said.

Staff writers Christin Nance Lazerus and Teresa Auch Schultz contributed to this report.



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