Pope Sparks Latino Pride
by Allan Appel | Mar 14, 2013 8:46 am
Posted to: Religion, Fair Haven
When Juanita Otero “saw that smoke and they said he’s from Argentina, I said, ‘Oh my god.’”
Otero (pictured) was glued to television as the cardinals in Rome engaged in the centuries-old cliff-hanger of choosing a pope to replace the retired Pope Benedict. She was ecstatic to learn Wednesday that the Catholic church selected its first-ever pope from Latin America, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.
Otero attends St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, a magnet for Catholic immigrants from Latin America. She and several dozen members of the St. Rose prayer group were ecstatic as they gathered Wednesday evening for their regular weekly prayer meeting. The church’s office manager, Argentina-born and raised Patricia Luczi, was particularly ecstatic.
As they prepared to pray and to study Wendesday evening’s selection, Acts 20, verse 35, both Dominga Vega and longtime prayer group leader Reynaldo Fernandez expressed Latino pride in Bergoglio.
“We are proud we have a Hispanic, [but] doing this is important for everybody, a very good day for all people in the world,” said Vega, a relatively new arrival to St. Rose five years ago from Puerto Rico.
Parishioners uniformly expressed pleasure in the new pope’s humble style and support for his conservative stances on doctrine.
“Two men being married, that’s wrong. That’s a sin,” said Vega. “We need a pope who is strong. That seat is hot. It’s not what he does, it’s what God does through him.”
Fernandez did support one church reform: “more opportunity for deacons to say mass.”
Otherwise, from gay marriage and priestly celibacy to women as priests, St. Rose’s parishioners uniformly supported having the new pope stay the course.
“I am a very old-fashioned Catholic. I don’t expect too radical changes,” said Otero, a West Havener who has been attending St. Rose for two decades.
She said she was impressed to learn that even as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio washed the feet of parishioners himself. She called such humility long overdue. “Ways to be more humble and unite the church. It’s not about abortion,” she said.
Asked what she would do if the new pope visited St. Rose of Lima, Otero’s eye lit up. “For me, it would be so wonderful. More than I can say.”