Fairfield University Catholic theologian Dr. Paul Lakeland and Jesuit priest Fr. Richard Ryscavage comment on the selection of the new Pope

Below faculty members of Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution in Connecticut, share their thoughts on the choice of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest, as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Image: Paul LakelandPaul F. Lakeland, Ph.D., the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies, is director of Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies:

"Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, popularly supposed to have been runner-up to Cardinal Ratzinger in the conclave that produced Benedict XVI, became Pope Francis I today in what will surely be considered an upset. Pope Francis is 76 years old and is being asked to take on the enormous task of addressing the multiple challenges facing the Catholic Church today. Perhaps the Cardinals saw in him a person whom everyone respects and therefore found him to be an obvious compromise candidate as well as one whose election recognizes the enormous importance of the Church of the south in general and that of Latin America in particular. They overcame any concerns they might have had about his age and the fact that he will be the first Jesuit pope in history. However, his choice of name, Francis, suggests he may be intending his pontificate to be one marked by humility, simplicity and reforming zeal. His request on the papal balcony that the people bless him before he blessed them may be a sign of good things to come." - Paul Lakeland

Image: Rick RyscavageRev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and professor of sociology:

"Cardinal Bergoglio will be the first Jesuit Pope. He has for a long time had a reputation for simplicity and concern for the poor. I would expect him to be a strongly conservative pope. But he understands the need for social justice. He has the perspective of someone who lives in a developing country which is a majority Catholic society. Argentinians tend to be independently minded people. His perspective on the global church may be quite different from a European point of view."

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 14, 2013

Vol. 45, No. 223