Weed in Denver, but Easter news on other front pages

If you live in the Mile High City (no pun intended), you woke up Sunday morning to this banner headline on your hometown paper’s front page:

Welcome to Weed Country

Happy Easter to you, too, Denver Post!

Another Colorado newspaper had a much better week than the Post — and not just because it won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The Colorado Springs Gazette, edited my my friend and former colleague Joe Hight, filled up two-thirds of its Sunday front page with this headline:

The road to Chimayo

Yes, the Gazette published a major religion story — and not a marijuana tourism piece — on its Easter front page:

The road to Chimayo, N.M. is long and tiring during the Christian holy week leading up to Easter.

But the spirits of the estimated 30,000 to 50,000 pilgrims who walk for hours to reach a famous Roman Catholic church outside of Santa Fe are anything but weary.

George Warda of Parker has made the journey for the past 20 years. Maybe more; he’s lost count.

At about mile 13 of his 15-mile trek on Good Friday, Warda was sending thanks to God for his family’s blessings and praying for a little help with health challenges.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than this time,” he said. “It’s very spiritual. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Pilgrims, from babies in strollers to the elderly with canes, come from nearby towns and faraway states. Warda wore a Colorado T-shirt.

Across the nation, some papers — like the Post — failed to acknowledge Easter on the front page.

But many others — like the Gazette — recognized the news value of Christianity’s most important holiday.

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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

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