Catholic experts said the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to lead the Roman Catholic Church shows a shift from
Europe to the Southern Hemisphere.
The Times will host a video chat at 2 p.m. with reporter Teresa Watanabe and experts discussing the issue. You can ask questions and make comments.
Two-thirds of Catholics live in the south and their concerns are
markedly different than those elsewhere, said Father Thomas Rausch of
Loyola Marymount University.
“It’s very significant that they’ve elected a Latin American, someone
outside Europe, who can represent the part of the church that is so
different from the West,” Rausch said. “There will certainly be great
rejoicing in Latin America. Everyone is hoping he has the vision to move
the church in a new direction.”
While Catholics in the United States might focus on gay rights,
contraception and women priests, Latin Americans are concerned about
such issues as poverty, global capitalism, the loss of faith and the
rise of Pentecostalism, Rausch said.
He added that it was significant
the new pope is not simply a Vatican bureaucrat or scholar but a man who
has served in Buenos Aires and in places like Cordoba, one of the
poorest cities in Argentina. He also participated in episcopal
conferences held by Latin American bishops, who asserted that the church
should focus on the poor, said Father Allan Figueroa Deck, a Latin
American specialist at Loyola Marymount University.
Rausch added that the pope’s commitment to the needy was also
signaled by his choice of the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi –
known as “the Poverello,” or “little poor man.”
Deck added that Pope Francis would serve as a bridge between Europe
and Latin America, just as his native country of Argentina has.
“It’s a very important development and it’s been a long time coming,”
Deck said. “The seeds of Christianity that was planted 500 years ago in
the Americas are finally manifesting themselves in the leadership of
the church at the highest level.”
New pope: A shift from Europe to Latin America [Video Discussion] – Los Angeles Times