The announcement of Pope Francis raised some excitement in Des Moines, especially from church leaders.
“This is the first American pope so it’s exciting for not only the people in Latin American but us here in the United States as well. It`s a very awesome thing,” said Rev. Chris Reising from Our Lady of the Americas in Des Moines.
“After such a long succession of Italian popes it really demonstrates the international character of the church,” said Bishop Richard Pates with the Diocese of Des Moines.
Bishop Richard Pates said he is looking forward to what that international background will bring. The South Americans have a certain dimension and character that is akin to their culture and I think that’s very important,” said Pates, “what I find is they`re able to express their faith genuinely from the heart. It`s deeply embedded there.”
The pope`s ethnicity isn`t the only first. He also chose a one of a kind name: He is the first Pope Francis.
“The fact that he took the name Francis in and of itself is perhaps a sign of his wanting to bring everyone together,” said Bishop Pates.
“At first I was like why would a Jesuit pick Francis, forgetting Francis Xavier, and he was one of the great Jesuit missionaries who went to the east. But then Saint Francis himself was a great missionary, so you see he’s going to be a missionary to the world, to continue to say the faith is relevant,” said Father Reising.
The Bishop also addressed some of the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, involving finances, as well as sexual abuse. He said he believes the new pope “will not tolerate” any of that, and has the spiritual leadership needed to deal with it.