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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina took the name Pope Francis on Wednesday.
David Hernandez, Adela’s husband, said he learned of the papal announcement because of the church bells ringing near his work place. ”I think it’s the first time I’ve been so excited to find out about the pope, especially because he is a Latin American.”
Adela and David attend St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waite Park, which holds a Hispanic Mass on Sundays at 11 a.m. The couple is also actively involved in El Centro Hispano (The Hispanic Center), a Hispanic outreach ministry run by St. Joseph’s Catholic Faith Community.
Father Oswaldo Roche, a Venezuelan priest for St. Joseph’s Hispanic ministry, said 25 percent of Catholics are Hispanic.
With such a large population, it’s a wonder why a Latino pope was not chosen sooner.
Roche said the timing doesn’t matter. ”It’s God’s timing. And for us, it’s our time. God has given us a big gift.”
He said Latinos feel connected to Pope Francis because of their shared language and experience.
Adela said, “It’s the spirit; Latin to Latin. He knows how we suffer. He knows our culture. He knows everything about us. And he likes our food!”
Latinos find hope in Jorge Bergolio’s choice of the name Francis.
Roche said, “He chose it because it is a symbol of poverty…symbol of humility…symbol of service. Now the Pope has taken the flag of Francisco to say, ‘Let’s go! Let’s reconstruct the church. Let’s raise morale. Let’s lift our spirits.'”
Pope Francis has fought for social problems in South America for many years.
Roche said, “The Pope is extending a hand to the poor and the needy. It is important that we help them. It is not only the work of the pope. It’s for all of us.”
But Roche says the main poverty Catholics must be concerned with is that of faith. ”Christ said we are poor. Economic poverty, social poverty, and immigration poverty come second.”
Catholic Latinos like Roche, and Adela and David Hernandez, are excited about the cultural connection they have to the new pope.
But Roche said to remember that “he is for everyone. The pope ought to be a sign of unity, of love, and of brotherhood.”
by Natalie Davis