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Students React to First Jesuit, First Latin American Pope

Pope Student Reaction Photo

Georgetown students expressed interest and excitement over the election of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit and the first pontiff from the Americas.

March 15, 2013 – Jose Madrid (C’14) was about to go to class Wednesday when Georgetown’s bells began ringing in celebration of the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) as the first pontiff from Latin America.

“And then I found out he was a Jesuit,” the Denver native  recalls. “I think [Pope Francis] is a perfect candidate to bridge the relationship between the Jesuit and Catholic Identity of social justice and the very pragmatic, very traditional approach of the Vatican.”

He also sees the new pope, who hails from Buenos Aires, as a pioneer.

“There’s nobody from the Western Hemisphere that has been in his position,” Madrid says. “I think, because of that reason, the Vatican will be that much more responsive to the needs of the poor … that much more sensitive to the pressing issues coming from developing countries … not only in Latin America but in Africa and Asia and all parts of the world where we have Catholics and non-Catholics.”

An Inspiring Act

Christopher Feather (G’13) found himself glued to the television with other students crowded in a campus restaurant waiting for word of who the next pope would be.

“I convinced the bartender to turn on the TV to watch the proceedings,” says the Latin American studies graduate student from Las Vegas. “It was a Hoya Heaven of sorts, as the Big East [tournament] was on the smaller televisions and the Vatican proceedings were on the main screens. “

Feather remembered Bergoglio from reports about the cardinal’s 2001 visit to an Argentine hospice, where the cardinal kissed and washed the feet of AIDS patients.

“Such an act inspired me greatly and made me never forget the cardinal,” he says.

the Right Direction

Jessica Gaudiosi (NHS’15) was excited to find out about the new pope in class yesterday and says she hopes his Jesuit training will encourage transparency in the Church.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” says the human science major from Atlanta.

Hillary Cohen (C'14) of Houston had another perspective on the pope's election.

"As a Jewish student at a Jesuit university, it’s been incredible to watch the on-campus reactions to – and celebration of – Wednesday’s decision," says the philosphy major. "The election of Francis, the first South American and first Jesuit pontiff, sends a powerful message about the future of the Catholic Church, and I look forward to seeing how students here embrace the news through both social justice and spirituality."

Good Day for the Church

Peter Prindiville (SFS’14) says he believes the Latin American pope invigorate the Roman Catholic Church.

“I was really hoping the cardinals would elect someone from the global south,” says Prindiville, an international history major who studied abroad in Ecuador this past summer. “I think having someone from Latin America is indicative of a changing church. The church is changing demographically [and] is growing in the south.”

Prindiville and Madrid were among the many students who crowded Dahlgren Chapel Wednesday night during Georgetown’s 10 p.m. Mass.

“Father [Kevin] O’Brien gave the homily, and it was an amazing experience,” Madrid says. As a young Catholic, to walk into a full Mass of young and older Catholics at 10 at night [was] truly a celebration. Everybody had a smile on their faces because this was a good day for the Church.”

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