BY MAGGIE HAYES AND ANGY ALTAMARINO
“Popes not only head the church, but they are a moral compass for the world at large,” said Dr. Patrick McNamara from the American Catholic League. “They are the blanket moral leader of the world. People of all religions recognize that.”
When the papal conclave chose Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Latin Americans around the world rejoiced. Latin America represents roughly half of the world’s Catholic population, and Queens residents hope that he can bring a new leadership to the church.
“I speak with my Argentinian heart when I say that God has blessed the whole world with Pope Francis, a being of light and so necessary for these difficult times the world is going through,” said Ivonne Sigaud, a Buenos Aires native living in College Point.
Many hope that Pope Francis can bring trust back to a church long plagued by scandal, while being a progressive leader that can conform with the modern times.
“I long for an urgent change in the [church], we need it in order to continue believing in it,” said Monica Insaurralde of Corona, also a Buenos Aires native. “I believe, hope, that this pope is the change.”
Also the first Jesuit pope, the Catholic community is wondering whether he will bring Jesuit attributes to his papacy. Typically seen as educators, Jesuits are known for open-mindedness when approaching everyday life.
“Jesuits were supposed to serve the pope, they weren’t supposed to become the pope,” said McNamara.“For a long time, [they] were seen as somewhat liberal. But I think he combines the best elements of progressive and traditional.”
Also the first pope of his name, Catholics around the world speculate he will draw inspiration from Francis of Assisi, a simple man known to empathize with and help the poor.
“[Pope Francis] was always a person who kept a low profile, a good man who was always on the side of humble,” said Hector Alberto Andrada from Buenos Aires, now living in College Point. “He walked the streets of Buenos Aires just like another citizen.”
Pope Francis reportedly never lived like the other Cardinals in Buenos Aires, but instead resided in his own apartment, took public transportation and actively worked with the people of Argentina.
“We are happy to know that they have trusted such a large mission to a simple man, recognized for his spirit of service,” said Fatima San Martin, a native of Misiones, Argentina. “They have put their eyes on South America, and specifically our Argentina.”
-With additional reporting by Anthony O’Reilly