Parishes across Chelsea and Revere are seemingly giving a big thumbs up to last week’s Vatican vote to elevate Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the position of Pope Francis.
They like that he’s an Italian immigrant.
They like that he’s from the Americas.
They like that he speaks Spanish.
And they like the fact that he is a Jesuit who has dedicated himself mostly to helping and speaking for the poor and disadvantaged in Argentina.
“I think it’s wonderful and people are excited in the Parish,” said Father James Barry of Our Lady of Grace in Chelsea and St. Mary’s in Revere. “I love that he’s from South America and he’s a Jesuit and his lifestyle and the fact he took the name St. Francis. Also, the first thing he did was ask us for a favor. The new pope asks a favor from us as his first thing, and the favor is for us to pray for him and pray for the church. Then, he bowed his head and it was just silence. It was powerful.”
Father George Szal of Immaculate Conception Parish in Revere – which plays host to many Spanish-speaking Chelsea residents – said there are many things for people to like about the new pope.
“People in the Parish here are excited,” said Szal. “We have a large Latin American contingent and they’re happy because he speaks Spanish and the Italians here are happy too because he is an Italian. The thing I like is he is so much for evangelization because that’s what Father Carlos (Flor) and I have been doing so much in this Parish since we came.”
Szal said it was a relief to have a Jesuit dedicated to the mission of the church become the Holy Father. He said there was a great deal of concern among many that a faction of some church leaders might elevate a pope and take the church in a different direction.
“I do believe there was great relief among some of the Cardinals that he was elected because there was a danger that some other Cardinals would get it – a faction that wants to take the Church back to before the Vatican Council,” he said. “They want to secure the Church’s position and status and go back to the Church of the 1940s and 1950s. That group is concerned more about maintenance and not mission. His election affirmed the mission.”
Father Barry said it was a great piece of inspiration to him that the new pope chose St. Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi.
“St. Francis said God told him to rebuild his church,” said Barry. “Maybe God is going to have him rebuild our church after all we’ve gone through. I think it’s a great new beginning potentially.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston wrote on his Blog that he had eaten lunch with Pope St. Francis on the afternoon he was elected. Cardinal O’Malley indicated that taking the name of St. Francis came out of no small amount of deliberation.
“That was a very emotional and moving moment, when he accepted and announced that his name would be Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi,” wrote O’Malley. “He said very explicitly that he was taking it in honor of St. Francis of Assisi…Without having discussed it with the Holy Father, I think that there are some themes from the life of St. Francis that he is trying to communicate by choosing this name. One of the themes of Francis’s life is the call to rebuild the Church, which is a call to reform, to deepening our conversion to the Lord. And even in his homily, the themes he talked about were walking, building and confessing. This reinforces my belief that this is one of the aspects of Francis’s life that he wants to stress.”
Both Szal and Barry said they devoted a good deal of time to discussing the new pope in their homilies in Masses over the weekend.