Chicagoans see new pope as ‘humble guy who wants to work for the world’
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK, JON SEIDEL and Becky Schlikerman Staff Reporters March 13, 2013 8:30PM
- Argentine Catholics overjoyed at first Latin-American pope
- Catholics, world leaders welcome church’s new pope
- Pope will need vision, leadership to turn around church, management experts say
- Choice of multicultural pope delights Joliet priest
- Humble Argentine cardinal, now Pope Francis, called ‘real voice for the voiceless and vulnerable’
- Pope Francis’ shows humble side: Picks up luggage, pays hotel bill
Updated: April 15, 2013 11:34AM
Church bells rang out all over Chicago on Wednesday afternoon, heralding news from almost 5,000 miles away in Vatican City: There’s a new pope!
He’s full of firsts, folks were quick to point out: The 266th pontiff was born in South America.
He’s a Jesuit.
And Francis I has given himself an original papal name that might be a hint of good things to come for Catholics: the humility of St. Francis of Assisi and the clarity of St. Francis de Sales.
The Rev. Albert Anuszewski, chaplain of Loyola University’s Rome campus, hustled to St. Peter’s Square at the sight of the white smoke. He said it took a minute for people to cheer the new pope because they didn’t recognize his name: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
“There was not an immediate applause and the cheer as they gave Benedict when he was elected,” Anuszewski said. “When he came out, you could see like everyone in the piazza was surprised. He looked very surprised that he had been elected.
“I think it seemed he was a little shocked himself,” he said.
And when the new pontiff asked people to pray for him, as he undertook leadership of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Anuszewski said, “There was a beautiful moment of silence as he bowed his head. You could hear a pin drop in St. Peter’s Square.
“I think it’s going to be a different papacy,” he said.
Buenos Aires native Arturo Czerwiak proclaimed Pope Francis’ election “one of the greatest things to happen to my country.”
“I cried when I heard and I kissed my son,” said Czerwiak, his 6-week-old baby strapped to his chest at a mass at Holy Name Cathedral to celebrate the pontiff.
“He’s very important in Buenos Aires,” said Czerwiak, 42. “He’s very humble, very humble. And Buenos Aires. . . it’s a dangerous city, and he traveled by bus, he didn’t have a driver, that’s how he is. And that’s what the church needs I think, a humble guy who wants to work for the world.”
On Chicago’s North Side, the El Mercado grocery store specializing in Argentine goodies buzzed with shock and excitement. Jonathan Rivas said he once was shushed by the man who now is pope.
At 15, Rivas moved a wooden chair in an Argentine church, apparently too loudly for Bergoglio’s liking.
“He was sitting there,” Rivas said Wednesday, hours after Cardinal Bergoglio became Pope Francis. “He shushed me.”
“To know the pope before he was the pope,” marveled Rivas, 30, of Madison, Wis.
Rivas’ friend, Luis Martinez, has attended church events where Cardinal Bergoglio held court at the Catedral de San Justo in Buenos Aires.
“He is serious and conservative but very happy,” Martinez said. “He was humble but he was strong.”
“He inspired respect with the other priests,” Rivas said. But “he was very humble.”
Store manager Aldo Pagnanelli, 60, called the choice “unreal.”
“We never expected this,” he said, adding that the new pope faces the giant task of leading the church. “He has a lot of big problems on his hands.”
Local Jesuits also were bursting with pride. Father Timothy Kesicki, the leader of the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits, characterized Wednesday’s election of Pope Francis I as two “huge historical events back to back”: the selection of the first Jesuit pope following the first papal resignation in centuries.
“The church is broader than its cradle, which is Europe,” Kesicki said. He also noted the recognition of the church’s growing popularity in Latin America. “What a beautiful relationship he will have with his people.”
He said he was “very moved” to hear the new pope ask for prayers from the crowds in St. Peter’s Square before offering his blessing.
Alumni of local Jesuit schools such as Loyola University and Loyola Academy tweeted out the news with #AMDG — ad majorem Dei gloriam, the Jesuit motto, which means “For the greater glory of God.”
At Cristo Rey Jesuit High School on Chicago’s West Side, a Catholic college preparatory school, students have been studying the church’s cardinals and talking about the selection of the new pope in religion classes, Director of Development Elizabeth White said. It’ll mean a lot to the students, mostly from immigrant families, to know the new leader of the church is a Jesuit from South America, she said.
The Rev. Michael Caruso, president of St. Ignatius College Prep High school, noted the historically close bond between the Jesuit order and the papacy.
“Part of our vows is to accept special missions from the pope,” he said. That said, most Jesuits dodge higher leadership roles, he said.
“It’s kind of rare to have bishops that are Jesuits,” Caruso said. “We’ve always thought we serve the church better in different ways.”
St. Francis de Sales High School “came to as standstill for about 15 or 20 minutes,” said Ray Nedohon, president of the Catholic school in Chicago’s East Side community. “There’s still quite a bit of excitement around the building.”
St. Francis de Sales — perhaps the other St. Francis — is the patron saint of journalism, among other things, Nedohon said.
“I know for me personally, right now there is a great deal of hope the new pope would bring some clarity to the church during times that were often difficult in recent history,” Nedohon said.
“We are named after the patron saint of journalism and communications and this may bode well for what the Catholic church is looking to communicate looking forward,” he said.
Contributing: Mitch Dudek