Hoboken Pastor: New Pope is 'Humble, Relatable'
Father Alex Santora, of the Our Lady of Grace Church, said he felt "peaceful" when he learned about the new pope.
The election of a non-European pope was “surprising,” said Father Alex Santora, a pastor Our Lady of Grace Church, on Thursday morning.
“Among Catholics we believe the Holy Spirit guides the decision to the church,” Santora said. “I think the Holy Spirit can surprise us.”
When he heard about the new pope, Santora said, he felt immediately at peace. He hadn’t predicted the selection of Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, 76, now known as Pope Frances I, because of his age.
Bergoglio is only two years younger than Pope Benedict XVI was when he was elected. Last time, Santora said, Bergoglio was a "runner up."
As far as taking guiding the Catholic Church into the 21 st century, Santora said change will likely not be immediate.
"I don’t think anything is going to happen right away," Santora said. But, he added, it's time for the pope to listen to all the "intellegent" members of the church.
When Santora responded to the Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, he said that "there are issues with regards to women, power, transparency. These are all issues that have to be acknowledged in some way. We can't keep our heads in the sand and live in the past era."
Furthermore, Santora said, a lot of Catholics can relate to the new pope.
“I think people are touched by his simplicity,” Santora said. “He rides the bus, bikes to his office." His humble nature — displayed by a wooden cross rather than a jewel-encrusted cross — means that Pope Frances I is "off to a good start," Santora said.