The recent selection of the Latin American-born pope has caused much discussion in the Catholic community and at Seton Hall.
After Pope Benedict XVI ended his papacy in February, the church began its search for a new pope. On March 13, the cardinals elected Argentinian-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies Father Pablo Gadenz said that he felt a connection to Pope Francis as soon as he was elected.
“Right away I made a connection with the new pope since my parents were born in northern Italy just like the pope’s parents,” Gadenz said. “He was born in Argentina, and I was born in Chile, the country right next to Argentina.”
According to Gadenz, almost 40 percent of Catholics worldwide live in Central and South America, and he thinks this selection can do a lot to strengthen the Catholic community in that part of the world.
“It will strengthen the Church in Latin America as well,” Gadenz said. “In recent years, many Catholics in Latin America have left the Church, so with the new pope there will be a renewed sense of evangelization and outreach.”
Gadenz said that he believes that Pope Francis’ papacy will bring the church in North and South American communities closer together due to the large number of American immigrants from Latin America.
He also said he believes that vocations in the priesthood will most likely increase across Latin America and even in North America due to the selection.
Gadenz said he believes this was a historic selection for the church and it will lead to an increase in the priesthood all over the world despite the similar challenges priests face today because the overall purpose of the pope has not changed.
“It is a historic change because Pope Francis is the first non- European pope in more than 1,300 years,” Gadenz said. “Certainly in the future there may be popes from other parts of the world, such as Africa or Asia. Of course, there is continuity as well. Regardless of where he comes from, the pope is and will remain the successor to St. Peter, entrusted with the mission of shepherding Christ’s Church on Earth.”
Eric Hostettler can be reached at email@example.com.