The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 16, 2013

Pope’s election called ‘exciting’

Local Catholics weigh in on new Pontiff

DANVILLE — Local Roman Catholics call the election of Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina — now Pope Francis I — “extraordinary” and “exciting.”

Students at Schlarman Academy have been following the process this week, and recognize the history that’s being made — both with the election of the first pope from the Americas and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first time a pope has resigned in six centuries.

Students and adults also are taken with the pope’s simplicity and humility.

“It’s cool that he’s just a simple guy,” said Andrew Kelley, a senior at Schlarman.

Katie Bateman, also a senior, said, “He seems personable. He has a lot of personality.”

She also noted the new pope is the first to call himself Francis, a reference to St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century Italian who lived a life of poverty, and St. Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order.

Both teens mentioned the dove or seagull that was sitting on the Sistine Chapel smokestack Wednesday, when the white smoke appeared, indicating the cardinals had chosen a successor to Pope Benedict.

That was a foreshadowing of the new pope calling himself Francis, Bateman said, as St. Francis of Assisi is often shown with a bird on his hand.

The dove also represents the Holy Spirit, Kelley added, and that shows the spirit was present. “That was pretty cool — all the little hidden meanings,” he said.

Being in a Catholic school, the students said they were privileged to be able to watch some of the proceedings on television and the computer this week — and to watch history being made.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Bateman said.

Religion teachers Francee Davis and Patricia Prall helped the students understand the significance of this week’s events.

The Rev. Patrick O’Neal, chaplain at Schlarman, also is impressed with the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and the Rev. John Flattery with Holy Family Catholic Church called his election “extraordinary.”

O’Neal said, “Already, I am very impressed with him. He has a true pastor’s heart — he knows what it is to serve.”

O’Neal, who’s also pastor at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hoopeston, said, “He’s going to be a great gift.”

The priest said he was impressed from the beginning when Francis asked the crowd to bless him, and he bowed in silence. “I’ve never seen that before,” he said.

The church will see a new emphasis on simplicity and people will be called upon to serve the poor and marginalized — something Francis already does in actions, not just words, O’Neal said.

Pope Francis also is the first Jesuit to become pope; the order is known for its work in education and intellectual research. O’Neal noted the new pope is extremely intelligent and trained as a chemist.

That should help him have dialogues with atheists, who base their arguments on science. However, science and faith don’t contradict each other, O’Neal said, and the pope will be able to reach out to atheists and agnostics.

“I have a lot of hope for this man,” he said. “He’s a man of deep spirituality.”

The pope’s biggest challenge will be reform of the Roman Curia, the central governing body of the church, in an effort to make it more efficient and transparent. “That will help restore trust in the leadership of the church,” he said. “We have to change our own house in order to be credible.”

Flattery called the election “an extraordinary choice.” Like others, he’s impressed with the pope’s habits of riding a bus instead of taking a limousine, asking people to pray for him, paying his own hotel bill and meeting with cardinals on their own level, rather than sitting in an elevated chair.

Also, he turned down the red velvet cape that Benedict wore when he was presented to the world for the first time in 2005, choosing the simple white cassock of the papacy instead.

His first remarks to the people were simple: “Brothers and sisters, good evening.”

“Those little gestures show he’s trying to bring the papacy closer to the people,” Flattery said.

On Thursday, Francis placed a bouquet of flowers on the altar at the St. Mary Major basilica, the oldest church in Rome, during an unannounced visit, and at his first Mass, he gave the homily in Italian rather than Latin — again, signs that he’s breaking with tradition.

Being a Jesuit is an interesting historical twist, too. Flattery noted that, about 1773, Pope Clement XIV, a Franciscan, suppressed the Jesuits, and the order wasn’t restored until 1815.

Francis reportedly was the runner-up in 2005, when Pope Benedict was elected.

Text Only
Local News
  • Police, Fire Reports

    April 16, 2014

  • Hoopeston council hears water project update

    Mike Streff, Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC, updated city council members Tuesday on the continuing progress of the ground and elevated water storage tank project.

    April 16, 2014

  • Trojans get past Ramblers

    STAFF REPORT ATTICA, Ind. -- Regan Foster hit a home run and drove in three runs as the Covington softball team defeated Attica 8-5 on Tuesday in Wabash River Conference action. Andi Taylor had three hi

    April 16, 2014

  • Mayor looks for fire committee members by Labor Day DANVILLE - Now with budget discussions done for the time being, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is looking for people to serve on a committee to analyze the fire division and its future. He'd like recommendations from the committee to the city council by Labo

    April 16, 2014

  • Salary talks go on at meeting DANVILLE -- Few members of the Vermilion County Board came out strongly for or against the issue of salaries for county offices and positions. Members of the Vermilion County Board discussed the issue of salary increases for offices up for election i

    April 16, 2014

  • Hoopeston group discusses economic development

    Economic growth was on the agenda Monday night in Hoopeston as about 50 people gathered at St. Anthony's Parish Hall to discuss an economic development strategy for the city.

    April 15, 2014

  • Covington Middle School students win at Purdue Science Fair

    Eighth-grader A.J. Kline and seventh-graders Shiley Claypool and Diana Shelby told school board members about their science fair projects Monday night. They competed at the Lafayette Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Purdue University last month.

    April 15, 2014

  • Oakwood sells its water and sewer systems

    Village trustees are faced with a responsibility many small towns would love to have — what to do with $2 million in cash.

    April 15, 2014

  • SpaceX delays station delivery launch CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A space station cargo ship will remain Earthbound for a while longer. With less than two hours remaining, the Space X company called off Monday's planned launch from Cape Canaveral. A new launch date was not set; the next atte

    April 15, 2014

  • Banquet to honor Shockey

    April 15, 2014

AP Video
Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America Applicants Vying for 'World's Toughest Job' Get Heartwarming Surprise Awkward: Crist catches Lt. Gov. insulting him on camera NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse US Airways Tweets Graphic Photo of Nude Woman Behind the scenes of the Marathon anniversary photo shoot American Airlines Responds After Girl Tweets Alleged Terror Threat 'Joke' Charlie White's "Dancing" Mistake Olympic Great & Baltimore Native Michael Phelps Ends Retirement; Eyes Rio
Must Read