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Santa Clarita Valley Catholics applaud papal choice

Posted: March 13, 2013 6:36 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2013 6:36 p.m.

A worshiper holds up the front page of a magazine showing a photograph of Jorge Mario Bergoglio during celebrations in Buenos Aires.

Local Catholics are rejoicing today with news of a newly elected pope.

Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday and chose the name Francis, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

“I am particularly excited for three reasons,” said Kevin Francis Corcoran, who volunteers at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church’s gift shop on Copper Hill Drive.

“One, he’s the first pope to take the name Francis, which is my middle name. Two, he’s of the Jesuit Order, and I am a graduate of Loyola Marymount (University); and three, being from South America, he’s going to represent and understand what’s needed in the multi-cultural part of our church,” Corcoran said.

Bergoglio, the longtime archbishop of Buenos Aires, has focused on social outreach. Catholics are still buzzing over his speech last year accusing fellow church officials of hypocrisy for forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.

“He picked the name of my favorite saint — Saint Francis of Assisi,” said Anna Mary Figueroa.

“He gave up all his possessions to serve the Lord,” she said. “I think he will serve the poor.”

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals, Figueroa noted as she applauded Wednesday’s news. Livie, the yellow Labrador retriever and mascot of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Parish, rolled around on the floor by the church’s gift shop.

In pointing out the popularity of her favorite saint, Figueroa reached down and touched a medal on the dog’s collar and pointed to the image of St. Francis of Assisi.

Melissa Pepe, a volunteer who was helping to organize a Girl Scouts event at the church, said she’s excited about the new pope.

“I think it’s very exciting for the church that he’s a non-European,” she said.

“My understanding is the (Jesuit Order) is about community and service,” she said. “And, that’s going to transfer over to what we do as Girl Scouts.”
with files from Associated Press
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt



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