Francis impresses religious here

Reaction by Catholics across the state, as well as locally, to newly appointed Pope Francis has been positive.

Monsignor J. Douglas Courville, pastor of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Berwick, said the pope appears to be a man who has a deep love for the poor.

“When he gives his homily, we will know more about the depth of his spirituality,” Courville said.

He added that Pope John Paul II’s homily, or first sermon, revealed a lot about the man.

Courville said he had not heard of the new pope before he was announced, just as he had not heard of Pope John Paul before he was announced as pope.

“When he (Pope Francis) came out on the balcony, he struck me as being very kind and compassionate,” Courville said.

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux Bishop Sam G. Jacobs released the following statement:

“Habemus Papam! We have a Pope! It is with great joy and excitement that we welcome Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as our new Holy Father with the name Francis I. At this time in the Catholic church’s history that the cardinals would choose someone from Latin America is of tremendous significance. It is an affirmation and recognition of the growing church in Latin America. It is likewise significant that they sought a spiritual man, a humble man and a man of the people. I believe he will continue in the path that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have forged, leading the church in proclaiming the sacred teachings which have been part of the church from the beginning.”

Diocese of Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell issued a similar statement.

“‘We have a pope!’ As these joyful words ring out across the world, the people of the Diocese of Lafayette join the chorus in profound gratitude to the gracious mercy of Almighty God. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has provided a human shepherd to nurture and guide his people. We thank God for the gift of His Holiness, Pope Francis, and we thank Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, for his acceptance of the Office of Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff. Long live the Pope.”

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said he believes Francis will help the church “to be a conscience to make sure that we include the poor and serve them in the name of Christ.” As archbishop of Buenos Aries, he noted, Bergoglio often took buses, lived in a small apartment and showed strong concern for the poor and for issues of social justice.

Although he’s 76, “he has a very youthful face and a very youthful personality that I think comes across in a very positive way,” Aymond said.

Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles said, “Pope Francis gives every indication of being a man of profound humility. He comes from a region of the world that is overwhelmingly Catholic and possesses great potential for the growth of the faith.”

Provost said in a statement, “There are two great saints named Francis. Saint Francis of Assisi had a vision in which God asked him to rebuild the church. And Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit like Pope Francis, is the patron of missionary work. Both saints speak to the New Evangelization and the spiritual renewal of the church.”

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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