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Gainesville reacts to selection of Pope Francis


Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina became Pope Francis I Wednesday. People in Gainesville are having different reactions to the decision.

Former UF anthropology faculty member Gerald Murray said he was surprised by the choice, but he said the new pope seems to be a humble person.

“I’m glad this type of person was chosen to be pope,” said Murray, who studied the anthropology of religion.

Pope Francis, the 76-year-old former Archbishop of Buenos Aires is the first Latin American and Jesuit Pope.

President of the UF Argentine Student Association Gonzalo Giraldo said he believes this is a big step for Latin America.

“It’s great for Latin Americans to take a bigger leadership role in the Catholic Church,” the 22-year-old said.

Pope Francis chose that name after St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for helping the poor.

“He is very much in favor of activities that benefit the poor,” Murray said.

The new pope lived a simple lifestyle in Argentina and even took public transportation. Murray said the new pope may be a reformer of church public policy; he is conservative in terms of church doctrine.

For example, Pope Francis would not change the church’s stance on sexuality and gender, Murray said.

“He will not budge on those matters,” he said.

Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit pope. The Jesuits were a religious army in the 1500s enacted to support the pope.

Murray said in the 1960s and 1970s they became vocal critics of the Vatican.

Jesuits have strong intellectual training, but Murray said he thinks the pope’s public reform will end up being more important that him being a Jesuit.

UF student and Catholic Gators members Steven Hausheer said he thinks the fact the pope is Jesuit was the biggest surprise.

But he doesn’t know how it will affect his role as pope.

“It’s too early to tell,” the 20-year-old junior said. “A lot of people have high hopes for him.”

As for Hausheer, he hopes Pope Francis can do the best job that he can.

“I don’t care either ways as long as he is the most qualified for the job,” he said.

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