Aurora -- There is much to like about the newly elected Pope Francis, according to the Rev. James M. Daprile, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.
"The manner of his lifestyle is very attractive to me," Daprile said. "He lived in a simple one-room apartment, cooked his own meals and took public transportation. The way he began his comments [after being selected], he asked for prayers.
"His work has been as an advocate for social justice and a simple way of life, which commands my attention and respect," he added.
On March 13 in Vatican City, a gathering of Catholic cardinals selected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first leader of the church ever chosen from South America.
Pope Francis, previously the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and the first non-European leader in more than 1,000 years.
"I am delighted that the church has an international character, but I was surprised at his age ," Daprile said. "After Benedict, I thought a younger person with more energy might be chosen."
Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down in February at age 85, saying he was no longer up to the rigors of the job. He became the first pontiff in 598 years to resign.
Daprile said while the process of selecting a new pope may seem strange to outsiders, it is normal to Catholics. Francis was elected by a congregation of cardinals on the fifth ballot. The 115 cardinals who are younger than 80 and eligible to vote chose their new leader after two days of voting, according to published reports.
"It is part of our tradition," he said. "When you live and swim in that world, it doesn't seem so strange, as it would to an outsider. I've seen the process many times in my lifetime. This is part of the nature of things, from a Catholic mindset.
"I WAS AT A nursing home and I asked some of the ladiess how many popes they remembered. They said seven," he said.
That would include Pius XI (1922-39), Pius XII (1939-58), Blessed John XXIII (1958-63), Paul VI (1963-78), John Paul I (1978), Blessed John Paul II (1978-2005) and Benedict XVI (2005-13).
And now Francis is added to the list. "He is surely conservative theologically," Daprile said. "He'll be known by his prayer and his work."
Daprile watched part of the ceremony on TV. "It was all very hopeful and encouraging," he said. "There is the drama and excitement as the new leader commands our attention and respect
"In Aurora, we do our best to serve the Gospel, to serve they neighbor and to love God. That's not going to change," he said. "I think he has a huge task in front of him, though. God give him the strength to carry it out."
The Rev. Steve Agostino, pastoral administrator at Kent State's Newman Center, said he was very excited by the choice of Bergoglio.
"I just thought this was a good indication that the church is moving forward and really focusing on the need for change," Agostino said. "I think it [represents] the idea of uniting Catholics throughout the world and reminding people the church isn't just in Italy or Europe."
Agostino said he thought the announcement was viewed with more excitement by the public than previous elections because it did not follow a death.
"We're not coming out of the funeral of a pope, so there's none of that sadness attached to the election," he said. "So that adds to the joy of the occasion."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187