In Chicago, Hope and Nationalism Expressed with Papal Election

Pope Francis is the first-ever Jesuit and Latin American to lead the Catholic Church

Throughout Chicago, at schools and churches and businesses, there was a range of reaction to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's elevation to pope. While some remained steadfast in their desire that Pope Francis I would carry on the work of his successor, others remained hopeful for change but weren't all convinced they'd get it.

Even before he was elected, a group calling themselves Progress Catholics demonstrated outside Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, releasing pink smoke to show their disappointment with the lack of female priests in the church. Similar protests were held inside The Vatican and echoed those held in 2005 prior to the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

"Women do everything in the life of the Church -- everything except leadership in the higher levels of decision-making," said protestor Barbara Marian. "I’m here out of my anger and grief about that, but also my hope for the Church and my love for the Church, that the Holy Spirit will inspire and bring forward women in leadership positions."

Over at St. Scholastica Academy, students watched video of the papal announcement via the Internet, many expressing hope for an increased focus on social justice, the inclusion of more young people, and broadened roles for women.

"I would like to see some female priests in the Catholic Church," said senior Shohanna Coalson. "I know that's a huge change. I guess I'm not very hopeful of that but if it happens it would be awesome."

Few of their friends, the students said, attend mass regularly but said they hoped the 76-year-old Argentine pope would institute change and influence a new generation.

"I think that there's really strong faith in our generation but that it's just not important for them to attend the church as an institution," said student Clarie Harper.

Many Catholics attending the Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Name Cathedral believed Francis' election, the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium, sent a signal that the church recognizes where its congregation is growing.

"It has to reach out to people around the world, particularly North and South America. It cannot just be limited to Europe," said parishioner Jorge Judan.

As to the cardinal's selection, those gathered to pray said they've been impressed by his humble nature and his leadership style.

"He is a very humble person," said Monica Mavrik De Betrami, who met the then-Cardinal back in 2009 and had him sign her copy of his book. "Any Argentine, I'm sure, we're all very happy that he was elected but nevertheless, of course, we would pray for him and we'll love him and obey him."

And happy they were. Argentinians at Buenos Aires Liquor and Deli on the city's northwest side popped champagne in celebration of the cardinals' selection.

Store owner Ramon Giminez likened his excitement to his country's World Cup soccer wins in 1978 and 1986.

"I jumped. I started screaming," he said. "Many people call me. Many people are using Facebook. Everybody said to me, 'Congratulations,'" the 20-year shop owner of all things Argentine recalled.

Pope Francis' Installation Mass is scheduled for next Tuesday, St. Joseph's Day. Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, will head the U.S. delegation.

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