Pope Francis on Page 1: Best and worst of local reax

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It’s another great day to be a newspaper junkie who enjoys checking out front pages across the nation after major breaking news.

When tmatt saw the number of local reaction stories I planned to mention, he made me promise to keep this post under 5,000 words. I told him I’d hit the high points (and the low ones, of course).

Without further ado, I want to present a few nominees for limited-edition GetReligion awards for coverage of Pope Francis’ selection.

Best use of “firsts” in a lede

— Seattle Times

It may take time before Seattle-area Catholics learn whether Pope Francis shares their views on specific issues. But many found things to like in the new pontiff Wednesday:

First pope from the Americas. First Jesuit. A man from a developing region and one who has chosen a humble lifestyle.

Their comments made it clear that the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the 266th pope turned a page in church’s 2,000-year history.

“The whole school stopped for about an hour to watch this historic moment,” said Father William Heric, chaplain at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish.

Dallas Morning News

First pope from this hemisphere. First Hispanic pope. First pope taking the name “Francis.” North Texas Catholics grabbed on to facts Wednesday about the man who until that afternoon had been Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aries.

Josefina Flores of Arlington was in downtown Dallas with her daughter and heard the bells peal at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. They ducked into the sanctuary to say a prayer for the new pontiff.

“He comes from a spiritual country and he seems so charismatic,” she said. “I have high hopes for him.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

While Wednesday’s election of a new pope may not have included the “first” that many St. Louisans were hoping for — namely, the election of Ballwin native Timothy Dolan as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics — it did contain three others.

And that’s not an easy accomplishment for a 2,000-year-old institution.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is the first pope in history to choose the name Francis, in honor of one of the most popular saints in history, Francis of Assisi.

“He selected for himself the name of Francis, which tells you a great deal about the new Holy Father,” said St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson. “As you know, St. Francis was a man of simplicity and peace as he lived out the gospel. We can assume that our new Holy Father will do just the same.”

Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit supreme pontiff in the church, and his chosen name could also be a nod to the great 16th-century Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier — familiar to generations of St. Louis University students as the namesake of College Church.

“We’re proud, as a Jesuit institution, that it was a Jesuit selected to be pope,” said David Laughlin, president of St. Louis University High.

And, of course, Francis, until Wednesday the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope from Latin America.

Worst overgeneralized, unattributed statement

Arizona Republic

Bergoglio is seen as a leader who can bridge the divide between social liberals in the church and orthodox traditionalists; between the growing church south of the equator and the historical church of Europe; and between Jesuits, who are seen as more liberal, and conservative movements in the church.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The new pope will find himself in a delicate balancing act, adhering to traditions on which the faith is based yet moving them forward to address critical issues such as transparency, trust, the role of women in the church and better handling of the sex abuse scandal. …

Few doubt that the church needs reform.

Hartford Courant

Though most people in Connecticut knew little about him before Wednesday, the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope filled the state’s Roman Catholic community with hope for a different perspective in the Vatican.

Best use of a quotation in a lede

— Los Angeles Times

When the Rev. Marco Ortiz saw the name of the new pope flash across the TV, he whispered to himself: “Wow.”

The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to lead the Roman Catholic Church, Ortiz realized, ushered in an era of firsts.

He is the first pope from the Americas. And he is the first pope who shares the mother tongue of many Latin Americans — Pope John Paul II spoke fluent Spanish, but with the accent of a non-native speaker, and Benedict spoke it more haltingly.

Des Moines Register

Early Wednesday morning, Perry native Zach Kautzky tweeted: “The feeling here in Rome is that anything could happen.”

By Wednesday night, it did. Kautzky, the chaplain at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines who is on a pilgrimage to the Vatican with his brother, stood only 100 yards from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica when the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina — the new pope — emerged.

In a crowd tens of thousands strong, “I really felt I was surrounded by a beautiful community of faith,” he told The Des Moines Register later via Skype. “We were blessed to be in that crowd.”

Denver Post

“He rides the bus! He’s one of us!”

About 100 exuberant Catholics chanted in singsong Wednesday near the Colorado Capitol at a rally for newly elected Pope Francis.

The gathering was a prelude to a Mass of Thanksgiving for the new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, celebrated across the street at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Few at the gathering of mostly young Catholics had heard of Bergoglio, formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, before his fifth-ballot selection in Rome on Wednesday by 115 cardinals sequestered in the Sistine Chapel.

Best explanation of significance to Latino community

Chicago Tribune

Many from Chicago’s large Latin American community cheered the selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the Roman Catholic Church’s new pope, though the joy stemmed from more than simple cultural commonalities.

Some saw the possibility that a pope hailing from a region densely populated with Catholics might unite the church the world over. Others wondered if a non-European pontiff would bring a different view of the world to the Vatican. And some suggested that Bergoglio’s reputation for austerity and hands-on experiences with the poorest of Argentines might shape the church’s global priorities.

“He’s going to be the first pope from the Americas, so hopefully he’ll bring new ideas,” said Angelo Di Bernardo, 56, of Naperville, who lived in Buenos Aires until he was a teenager. “He seems to be a humble man. Most of the Latin American countries, they’re poor countries with humble people. So hopefully this will give those people a boost, something to believe in, hope, and someone they can refer to.”

In the Chicago Archdiocese, where an estimated 42 percent of the more than 2 million Catholics are Hispanic, the selection of Bergoglio resonated deeply.

At special celebrations across the Milwaukee area, there was a sense that Wednesday’s announcement signaled a fresh start. The selection particularly resonated among Latinos and Jesuits, who claim a special kinship with the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to occupy the throne of Peter.

“It is a historic moment in the church,” Father Jose Moreno told the worshippers at a Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Milwaukee’s south side. “This is not just one point in the history of the popes. This is a new beginning for the church.”

Margarita Guerrero, who attended the Wednesday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was equally taken by the moment.

“I cannot express in words. It’s very powerful, such an honor,” she said. “We’re going to make history. It’s really a gift.”

The Tennessean

For Yolanda Herrera, there was much to celebrate as news spread on Wednesday of the election of the first Latin American pope.

“I think he will have a very good impact on the Hispanic community here,” said Herrera, 56, administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an Hispanic parish with one of the largest mass attendances in the Diocese of Nashville.

“He knows the Spanish roots. He is going to understand Spanish culture and the devotion we have in our families and our hearts.”

After all of the above, if you only have time to read one regional newspaper story on the papal selection, you might consider this front-page report from the Indianapolis Star.

The Star provides interesting insight from Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who knows the new pope:

For more than three weeks in 2005, Tobin sat at the side of the man who is now pope, and got to know him as someone humble in spirit, who lived simply. He learned that Bergoglio — shepherd to more than 3 million Catholics in Buenos Aires, lived in a small apartment, cooked his own meals, got to work by riding the bus or the subway or driving a Volkswagen.

“What impressed me about him was his simplicity,” Tobin said, “his lack of pretension.”

Your turn, GetReligion readers: Help us pick the award recipients or nominate your own winners (and losers)  from today’s first-day newspaper coverage.

P.S. See if you can identify the former award-winning Godbeat pro who returns to the beat to help with the big news.

About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The Seattle Times seems to have the typically American Protestant attitude toward religion–that faith and doctrine is supposed to be subservient to the will of the people. Wrong! True religion is supposed to mold the people who adopt that religion– the people aren’t supposed to mold the religion. Thus the followers of a religion are supposed to be faithful to the teachings of their faith and not be seeking for leaders who merely want to become populist mouthpieces. On the other hand it is the leaders of a religion who are supposed to be its most determined defenders and fervent practitioners.

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

    According to CNN, 90% of Catholics use contraception: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/14/world/pope-5-things/index.html?c=&page=4

    As Get Religion has previously reported, that statistic is false (and CNN also does not cite a source for that number, but I’m guessing they’re using the Guttmacher study that WaPo debunked). Yay fact-checking! (sigh)

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

    Oh, and I’m not at all surprised to see that the Arizona Republic article with the “Worst overgeneralized, unattributed statement” was written by Mike Clancy. I live in the Phoenix metro area and I’m well acquainted with his hit pieces on Catholicism. The man is a virulent anti-Catholic and does not hide his bias, nor does he bother to fact-check basic facts about the Church. When he wants a quote from an Arizona Catholic, he goes straight to the most liberal, dissenting parishes in the Valley as opposed to attempting to get a decent cross-section from local parishes.

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      sorry, that second quote should link to a blog post I wrote debunking some of Clancy’s more egregious errors.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Worst overgeneralized, unattributed statement
    AP
    “Francis considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.” http://www.startribune.com/world/197958351.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue

    Worst summary of a group’s supposed view
    AP (same story)
    “Traditionalists had rejoiced with Benedict’s return to these elements of the pre-Vatican II church, arguing it was the true church and not the one spoiled by the council’s reforms.”

  • http://www.juliaduin.com Julia Duin

    Why, why isn’t anyone looking at the Argentine media? That’s the first place I went. Within an hour, La Nacion had tons of stuff up on their site that’s easily accessible through google/translate. See here: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/. See if you can find a real hoot of a story on that site claiming that when Chavez, the newly deceased Venezuelan president got to heaven, he talked Christ into allowing a Latin American pope. Then there is the Buenos Aires Herald: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/, which went and found Adolpho Perez Esquivel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is saying Bergoglio had nothing to do with the dictatorship. They’re days and days ahead of other media who are stupidly trashing the new pope for not standing up to the juntas.

    • John Pack Lambert

      Aw, but where is the fun in saying he did not have connections to the dictatorship. That is not the type of fun headline that sells papers.

  • John Pack Lambert

    How can Francis I be the “First Hispanic Pope” when Pope Alexander VI was born in Spain? I cannot figure any way that the Argentine-born son of Italian immigrants would be “Hispanic”, but a Pope born in Spain would not be.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    John Pack Lambert: I agree that I was too loose with my use of the word “Hispanic.” But part of the issue is what “Hispanic” actually means. As opposed to, say, “Spanish.” At least in the US, I suggest, “Hispanic” is generally understood as separate from “Spanish,” referring to members of Spanish-speaking cultures in the Western Hemisphere. How much does it depend on blood and how much on culture? No question that the new pope’s parents were born in Italy. Also no question that he was born and grew up in Argentina and is significantly a product of that nation’s culture. If I had it to do over, I might have said “culturally Hispanic.”

    (And thanks for the shout-out, Bobby…1:-{)> )

  • Chris M

    I was pleased that the Orlando Sentinel stated Pope Francis was the first “non-European Pope of the modern era”. I would hazard a guess that the “modern era” bit was added in a later draft, though! ;)


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