South LA Catholics welcome new pope

By Katie Lyons

Pope Francis has already managed to break with tradition. He refused to elevate himself higher than the other cardinals during his address, and he asked for the crowd’s blessings.

imageCardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008 (Wikimedia)

The new pope’s unconventional ways resonates with Bobby Goodin, who attends the Holy Cross Church on Main Street in South Los Angeles.

“And in his address he did something that I don’t remember seeing before,” said Goodin. “He asked the people to pray for him before he blessed them. So that kind of shows us that he feels that our prayers are just as powerful as his are.”

Goodin is also impressed that Pope Francis is a Jesuit- the single largest religious order in the Catholic Church. However, there has never been a Jesuit pope.

“The first pope to be from the Americas- that’s impressive,” said Goodin. “But the first Jesuit is more impressive because the Jesuits are pretty independent. And they’re totally for education. So, the fact that he’s a Jesuit is more impressive to me.”

Adriana Guerra, who attends St. Vincent Catholic Church on Adams Boulevard, is impressed by Pope Francis’ Argentinian roots.

“The first time to have a pope from Latin America- that’s a wonderful thing that’s happening,” said Guerra. “So that’s why I’m glad to have a Latino from America. I think it’s better. I think it’s going to change a lot of things.”

Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires to Italian immigrants and leads a simple lifestyle. When serving as archbishop in Argentina, he chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace. While living there, Pope Francis took the bus to work and cooked his own meals. Additionally, the 76-year-old is well-known for his work with the poor and his strong opposition to gay marriage.

Goodin believes the pope’s humility will be good for the church.

“From what I’m hearing, I think he’s a very holy man,” said Goodin. “I think it’s gonna be a good change. He seems like he’s very affable and friendly.”

With over 480 million Catholics in Latin America, experts believe that by choosing Bergoglio, Cardinals are hinting at where the future of the church may lie.

Listen to an audio interview about Pope Francis with Father James Heft of USC’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies

L.A. Catholics welcome new archbishop

Yesterday marked the start of a changing of the guard at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Current Cardinal Roger Mahony, who has held the position for 25 years, will retire next February at the age of 75, blogdowntown reports. He will turn the country’s biggest Roman Catholic archdiocese over to 58-year-old Jose H. Gomez, who was chosen by the Pope to succeed him.

Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, previously served five years as the archbishop of San Antonio, Texas.

You can read more about his background in a two-part series put together by the Los Angeles Times.

At a two-hour Mass in front of thousands of worshipers and priests, the two religious leaders exchanged banters and prayers, with Gomez quipping that the audience got “two homilies for the price of one. And it’s free. It’s a good deal.” The Mass was streamed live on the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s Web site.

Later, as the Times reports, Mahony told Gomez that “church rules demand that the ceremonial throne for the prelate ‘must be fitting,’” and invited him to try it out.

“A bemused Gomez approached the large wooden chair, began to sit, hesitated, looked askance, then finally plopped down. ‘It’s kind of big,’ he said, ‘but I think I can make it.’”

As archbishop, Gomez will likely have to confront issues regarding immigration policy.  Like his predecessor, he made his stance clear, telling parishioners that God doesn’t see strangers and that “no one is an alien for any of us,” a sentiment he repeated in Spanish.

He praised L.A.‘s diversity, saying, “In the community of cultures here in Los Angeles, we can see what it means to say that our church is ‘catholic,’” – that is, universal.

Gomez will serve with Mahony until Mahony’s retirement.