New Pope: Locals approve name choice after St. Francis of Assisi
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Standing on a sidewalk on Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park selling rosaries, prayer cards and other religious items for her order, Sister Guadalupe Pablo celebrated the new pope -- and his chosen name.
Soft-spoken and petite in her brown vestments, the 32-year-old explained her pride.
‘We’ve never had a pope from Latin America, and beside that, our founder was St. Francisco de Assisi,’ she said. ‘Our new Holy Father is Pope Francisco I. We’ve never had a pope named Francisco. That made us feel so happy.’
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeds Benedict XVI as leader of the world’s 1.2-billion Roman Catholics. Benedict stunned the church when he stepped down last month, becoming the first pontiff to do so in six centuries.
She said Bergoglio’s choice to be called Pope Francis -- or Francisco as he’s known in Spanish -- was meaningful because her order’s founder had identified so strongly with the poor, just like the new pope’s order, the Jesuits.
‘To our founder, all were his brothers,’ she said. ‘That the pope chose to identify with him means something beautiful.’
Pablo said she’s been in Los Angeles four months, living under the generosity of a woman along with other nuns while their convent in Mexico state is constructed.
She said that the pope was Argentine and not Mexican did not matter.
The Rev. Marco Ortiz of Divine Saviour Catholic Church in Cypress Park watched as the new name was announced: ‘OK, whoa,’ he said, saying the name choice was quite significant.
‘The name lets us see the direction of the pope,’ Ortiz said. ‘And St. Francis of Assisi came to renew the church, to rebuild the church.’
Picking the name is a sign that Bergoglio has the same bold vision, Ortiz said.
Aside from a desire to live a life free of wealth, St. Francis was also known for being ‘very inclusive,’ Ortiz said.
‘A lot of gay people feel connected to him because of his sensitivity,’ he said. ‘It’s the same if he’s from one Latin American country or another. The emotion is the same.’
-- Hector Becerra and Marisa Gerber