U.Va. Professor of Religion Reacts to Selection of New Pope

March 13, 2013

A professor of religion at the University of Virginia says the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as pope is an interesting choice.

Bergoglio is the first pope to come from the Americas. He is also the first Jesuit. He will be known as Pope Francis.

U.Va. Professor Gerald Fogarty says Jesuits were never really seen as candidates for pope, historically, because they take a vow to never accept a head of church, unless commanded by the pope alone. But Fogarty says not only is it an interesting choice because Pope Francis is Jesuit, but also because he's not European.

"The fact that he's from Latin America indicated that's where the growth is," said Fogarty. "Also it's where the problems are of Evangelicals coming in and making inroads into the Catholic population, because until 40 years ago everyone who was Christian was Catholic (in Latin America)."

Fogarty says he thinks the decision was made in an effort of the cardinal electors to take a broader view of the church and to make it less European-centered.

At 76, this pope is only one year younger than Benedict was when he was elected in 2005. Fogarty says, to him, that means they didn't have a clear candidate that they wanted to be pope for the next twenty years.

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