Holy Cross Community Weighs in on New Pope, Future of Catholic Church

College president, faculty and students share thoughts on Pope Francis with media

March 14th, 2013 by 

Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies, offered commentary for NECN's "The Morning Show" throughout the conclave and after the new pope was announced.

Within minutes of seeing white smoke emerge from the Sistine Chapel signaling a new head of the Roman Catholic Church, members of the media made their way to campus to watch the historic event unfold with students gathered in the Hogan Campus Center. Others connected with faculty members by phone, who commented live during the suspenseful wait for the new pontiff to emerge.

Upon the announcement that Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, had been chosen as the new pope, journalists near and far — from Worcester to Slovakia — called upon members of the Holy Cross community for their thoughts on Pope Francis and what his election means for the future of the Catholic Church.

College president Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., faculty members from varying disciplines, and students all offered perspectives on the historic announcement.

In the Telegram & Gazette, Fr. Boroughs remarked that Cardinal Bergoglio served in the upper hierarchy of the church, but he shunned the amenities of the office. “He seems to be a man of the people,” he said. Melissa Luttman ’15, watched the announcement in her Latin class, and was excited that a Jesuit had been chosen. “That commitment to social justice is something we really identify with at Holy Cross,” Luttman told the reporter.

Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies, who has been a go-to source for the media since Pope Benedict announced his resignation last month, said this morning on NECN’s “The Morning Show” that he assumed an Italian had been elected because the conclave was so short. “I was wrong, but I feel good about being wrong,” he said. “What the cardinals said before the conclave was that they wanted a pope who exemplified personal holiness, and this is what they meant. Someone who asks for the silent prayers of all those assembled because he knows he needs their love and support.”

Rev. Thomas Worcester, S.J., who authored two books on papal history and teaches a course in the papacy, was also surprised by the announcement. “That they picked a Jesuit did surprise me,” he told “Worcester News Tonight.” Elaborating on what a Jesuit might bring to the papacy, the history professor told the Slovakian newspaper Pravda that “Jesuits have a world-wide perspective and strong commitment to justice for the poor. These things should influence his papacy.”

Select news coverage:

For more on the Holy Cross community’s contributions to media coverage of Pope Benedict’s resignation see: Media Worldwide Turn to Holy Cross Faculty for Comment on the Pope’s Resignation

For news related to the papal conclave see: Holy Cross Faculty Experts Share Insights on Papal Conclave, Benedict’s Successor with the Media

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