Area Catholics hail conservative pope

Posted: March 14, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — In celebration of Wednesday’s election of Jorge Bergoglio — who immediately took the name Francis as the new pope — the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church will dedicate its two morning masses today to him, said the Rev. Stanley Krempa.

Krempa added he is happy with the selection of the first Jesuit and the first pope from the Americas. Pope Francis is from Argentina.

He symbolizes the universality of the Catholic Church, Krempa said.

“He will bring his own life experiences to the church — his dedication to the poor and disadvantaged,” he said. “This shows the capacity of the Catholic Church to surprise and renew itself. It also will be a tremendous boost to the Hispanic community around the world.”

Winchester resident Peter Buchbauer said the new head of his church “will probably continue the traditional, conservative direction of Benedict and John Paul,” his predecessors.

“I have read that he’s a compassionate conservative,” Buchbauer said.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis, 76, encouraged the priests under his jurisdiction to go into their parishes and meet people. Bergoglio has tried to bring the “new evangelization” urged by Popes John Paul and Benedict to a broad spectrum of the populace in Argentina, Buchbauer said.

He does come from “a different perspective,” with “different experiences,” than former popes, Buchbauer added.

His age may be an issue.

Leading 1.2 billion Catholics, from many diverse backgrounds and nationalities is “a massive burden” and an “awesome responsibility,” Buchbauer said. “He has to be a shepherd, not just an administrator.”

“We pray the Holy Spirit has infused the conclave to pick the right person,” Buchbauer said.

Catholics around the world are getting an “old-fashioned priest” to head their church, according to Carlos Moore of Clarke County.

Moore, who splits his time between Clarke County and Argentina, said Pope Francis is conservative. “He is very much against homosexual marriage and abortio.”

The new pope seldom used a car to visit his parishes when he was an archbishop. Instead, Moore said, he took the bus or the subway. “It’s well known he flies tourist class.”

“He hasn’t been on the best of terms with the Argentine government,” Moore said, but the new pope is well respected by his fellow cardinals.

Victor Castiglia, who attends Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, said he is happy with the cardinals’ choice.

He sees the Argentine as “more open to the rest of the world.” and that should help to unite Catholics all over the globe.

While Pope Francis has a European background, he has “experience of 360 degrees of the world,” Castiglia said.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com