Pope Francis Popular Among U.S. Catholics

March 14, 2013


It's been less than a month since Pope Francis became the leader of the Roman Catholic Church but he already has an 84 percent "favorable" rating among U.S. Catholics, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  Forty-three (43) percent of those surveyed hold a "very favorable" view of the former archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., spoke about Pope Francis' early and positive influence on the Catholic Church when he visited Canisius College on Tuesday, April 9.  The American Catholic author and commentator is a senior fellow at Georgetown University and recently spent several weeks in Rome as a special analyst for the National Catholic Reporter during the election of Pope Francis.  

WGRZ-TV, Channel 2 covered Father Reese's lecture at Canisius.  Click here to view more. 

Pope Francis officially became the leader of the Catholic Church during an Installation Mass at the Vatican on Tuesday, March 19.  The Mass was attended by 132 heads-of-state, including representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and other faiths.  It’s estimated that nearly 200,000 more well-wishers converged on St. Peter’s Square to witness the inaugural ceremonies. 

During the formal start to his papacy, Pope Francis delivered a passionate pledge to “serve the poorest, the weakest and the least important.”  His homily urged those with leadership responsibilities and all others to respect one another and protect “God’s gifts” of creation. 

Click here for more on the inaugural ceremonies.

Click here to read the Installation Mass in its entirety.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., of Argentina was elected the 266th pontiff on Wednesday, March 13, taking the name Pope Francis.  He is the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to become pope of the worldwide Catholic Church. Below, members of the Canisius community share their thoughts on the historic election.  

John J. Hurley, President of Canisius College

“As the president of a Jesuit college, I am intrigued and excited by the election of the first member of the Society of Jesus as pope.  All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.  To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope.  This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church.”

Rev. Michael F. Tunney, S.J., Director of Mission & Identity and Rector of the Jesuit Community

“I was surprised and impressed that the college of cardinals would entrust the papacy to a man formed by the Society of Jesus.  As Jesuits we are not intended to accept ecclesial positions as bishops or cardinals.  The exceptions for this are few and far between.  For one now to be elevated to pope is unprecedented and a radical move.  And a grace-filled one, I pray, for our Church and world.  

“Francis leads with his simplicity and humility.  These are rooted in his experiences of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and his life in service to our Church and all the people he has served for decades.  I expect Francis will call us all to care for the poor and needy in our midst, to live the social gospel rooted in the life of Jesus. I hope he will engage us all in conversations that will help us all, individually and as societies in our Church and world, to live more gracefully in the Body of Christ and our human communities.”

Rev. Patrick J. Lynch, S.J., Chair of Religious Studies and Theology

"The Jesuits at Canisius College and High School were pleased and excited that a Jesuit was elected Pope.  It was actually something that we did not expect.  Jesuits are usually on the fringes and not at the center.  We even make a promise not to aspire to ecclesial office.  We are very proud, however, that one who follows our way of life and path to God was chosen as the leader of the Catholic Church.  We are praying that he will carry out his ministry well and make us even prouder to be Jesuits.  We especially look forward to working with our brother Jesuit in service of the Church."

Rev. Martin X. Moleski, S.J., Professor of Religious Studies and Theology

“I am stunned at the courage of the Cardinals in choosing not only a non-European but a Jesuit.  The Hispanic members of the Church are very large in number, very faithful and I’m sure they are very happy and consoled by having one of their own in the Papacy – just as I am happy and consoled at having one of our Jesuits in the Papacy. 

The choice of the name, Francis, is inspiring, honoring not only Francis of Assisi but St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest Jesuit saints.”

Click below to view a statement from the Society’s Superior General P. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J