Even if it meant being late for class, Emily Roth sat in the HUB-Robeson Center Wednesday afternoon glued to the television screen until the name of the new pope was announced.
After a two-day conclave, Argentine Jorge Bergoglio was chosen as the new Pope and took the papal name Francis. He’s the first Latin American pope in history.
“I think it’s a really interesting process,” Roth (senior-food science) said. “Whether you’re Catholic or not, this is an important moment in history.”
Rev. Matthew Laffey, director at the Penn State Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, said he has been a priest at the center for about eight and a half years, and that he had not spent the day waiting to hear who had been chosen but did watch when the selection of Pope Francis became official.
He said that he doesn’t know much about the newly-chosen pope but is glad he is from South America. Pope Francis seems very humble, especially because he first asked for others to pray, Laffey said.
“He’s a theologian, which is good. He’s very educated, which is [also] good,” he said.
David Nice, a volunteer for the Penn State Catholic Campus Ministry, said he was pleased with the selection of Bergoglio.
“I’m delighted that they picked someone from the [South] American continent [who] has great experience and will guide the church into this century with tremendous perspective,” Nice said.
Many students found it important to watch and wait for the new pope to be chosen.
Pawel Chrzanowski (freshman-economics) said that the pope’s background will bring an exciting change to the church and that he thinks the pope will be able to represent the large number of Spanish-speaking Catholics who have previously been underrepresented.
Of the pope’s age, Chrzanowski said that he thinks that electing a 76-year-old pope is the norm.
“It’s the appropriate age,” Chrzanowski said. “He will bring a lot of experience and knowledge to the position.”
But some students feel that the selection of a pope of Bergoglio’s age could be a step in the wrong direction.
“I was hoping there would be a younger pope,” Roth said. “I think a lot of younger Catholics need guidance.”
Jasmine Godard (sophomore-journalism), who said she was surprised that the new pope was elected so quickly, also said she thinks the pope’s old age is significant.
“He might have one foot in the grave already,” she said.